The newest person to chair the NLM Board of Regents is Dr. Esther Sternberg, who is featured in NLM’s Changing the Face of Medicine, which honors the lives and achievements of women in medicine. In addition to her appointment as a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Dr. Sternberg founded the University of Arizona Institute on Place and Wellbeing. Prior to her work at the University of Arizona, she served as chief of the section on neuroendocrine immunology and behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and as director of the NIH-wide Integrative Neural Immune Program. Renowned for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health, Dr. Sternberg wrote Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being and The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions. In 2014, after moving to the University of Arizona, she received an invitation to join NLM’s Board of Regents, and in August of 2017, she became the chair.
Dr. Sternberg began working with NLM about 20 years ago, when she was with the National Institute of Mental Health, and needed a place to hold a reception for an international conference on neuroimmunomodulation, the science of brain-immune connection. She found the answer at the foyer of NLM’s Lister Hill building. Over the years, Dr. Sternberg has provided advice on NLM’s exhibitions. She worked with the then newly arrived head of NLM’s History of Medicine Division, Elizabeth Fee, PhD, on the Library’s first exhibition, Emotions and Disease, which opened in 1996. It used an historical approach to explain the meaning and relevance of scientific developments linking neurophysiology to the functioning of immune systems. Dr. Sternberg noted that: “The exhibition was written up in The Washington Post as ‘Best in Washington,’ which provided a vehicle to highlight the conference reports in The Washington Post’s health section.” Beyond the exhibition program, she served on the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee (LSTRC), which reviews journal titles and assesses the quality of their content.
Dr. Sternberg is excited about NLM’s ongoing strategic planning process, in which the Board is a prominent player, and she is also eager to enrich outreach efforts. Dr. Sternberg sums up her philosophy this way: “In my mind, the Library’s main mission is public health through public information.”
The NLM Board of Regents was established in 1956 by the same Act that created the National Library of Medicine. Since then, the Board of Regents has served as the advisory body to the secretary of Health and Human Services, the director of NIH, and the director of NLM on important aspects of policy regarding the Library. In addition, the Board is the final review body for NLM’s extramural grant program. It meets three times a year in February, May, and September.