NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg to Receive Paul Evan Peters Award
The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE are pleased to announce that Donald A.B. Lindberg, Director, National Library of Medicine, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Paul Evan Peters Award. The award recognizes notable, lasting achievements in the creation and innovative use of network-based information resources and services that advance scholarship and intellectual productivity.
“In terms of genuinely sustained, visionary, and high-impact leadership in using networked information to transform everything from consumer health care to fundamental research in molecular biology and related disciplines, I can’t think of any organization that can match the record of the National Library of Medicine under Don Lindberg’s leadership,” noted CNI executive director Clifford Lynch. “He has been responsible for an incredible string of strategic and often prescient commitments that have changed our world. Don is a wonderful choice for the Paul Evan Peters Award.”
Donald Lindberg has worked as a scientist for over 50 years, becoming widely recognized as an innovator in applying computer technology to health care, medical diagnosis, artificial intelligence, and educational programs. In 1984 he was appointed director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest biomedical library, a post that he still holds. As NLM’s director, he has spearheaded countless transformative programs in medical informatics, including the Unified Medical Language System, making it possible to link health information, medical terms, drug names and billing codes across different computer systems; the Visible Human Project, a digital image library of complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the normal male and female human bodies; the production and implementation of ClinicalTrials.gov, a registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world; and, the establishment of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a national resource for molecular biology information and genetic processes that control health and disease. Today, NLM has a budget of $327 million, more than 800 employees, and digital information services that are used billions of times a year by millions of scientists, health professionals, and members of the public.
Selection committee member George Strawn (director, National Coordination Office for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development [NITRD] Program) recounted, “I met Don Lindberg 20 years ago, when, in addition to his NLM duties, he was serving as the first director of the interagency National Coordination Office for what is now called NITRD. I have valued his vision and leadership since that time. For example, his long-term support for Semantic Medline predated the Semantic Web by at least a decade and now portends a revolutionary mode of scientific discovery.”
“It’s a pleasure to honor Donald Lindberg, who has contributed so much to the use of computers and information technology in health care,” stated EDUCAUSE president and CEO Diana Oblinger. “He was a pioneer in the field of medical informatics, and his visionary leadership at the National Library of Medicine has transformed the way we all access biomedical literature. I’m honored to join with CNI and ARL in recognizing his achievements with the Paul Evan Peters Award.”
Lindberg’s interest in the potential intersection between information technology and the biological sciences stretches back to the early days of his career. He joined the pathology faculty at the University of Missouri in 1960, where he developed the first automated lab system and an automated patient history acquisition system. He implemented an automated statewide system for interpreting electrocardiograms, as well as other medical applications for the computer. Around this time, Lindberg also began publishing articles in a field that would come to be known as medical informatics, including “The Computer and Medical Care,” which appeared in 1968.
As NLM director, Lindberg convinced the United States Congress that the Library was an essential information conduit, facilitating the decision-making process of scientists and pharmaceutical companies, and, ultimately, benefiting patients and the general public, thereby securing the organization’s robust future. “Don is a long-standing advocate for free public access to health information through NLM’s MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus Connect,” said Elliott Shore, ARL executive director. “His leadership continues to play a critical role in the integration of biomedical information systems and services, fostering a well-informed society.”
A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Lindberg has received numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Morris F. Collen, MD, Award of Excellence of the American College of Medical Informatics, and the Surgeon General’s Medallion of the US Public Health Service. He received his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and an undergraduate degree from Amherst College.