In a recent blog post, NLM director Dr. Patti Brennan highlighted some of NLM’s accomplishments in 2019. So, what’s on tap for 2020? First, as NLM prepares for major renovations to its Building 38, most of the staff, including Dr. Brennan, will move to other office space on the NIH campus for about two years. That will be enough time to implement a major redesign of the first floor of the 60-year-old, architecturally dramatic but not really fit-for-purpose workspace to make more efficient use of the space, add modern office layouts and meeting spaces, and modernize the HVAC systems. Also, NLM will continue to grow its Intramural Research Program (IRP), which focuses on computational biomedical and health sciences. Two new tenure-track investigators were hired this past year and one or two more are expected to be added in 2020. The IRP brings together two NLM divisions, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, specifically the Computational Biology Branch, and the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, which emphasize discovery based on molecular phenomena and clinical information. There will also be greater alignment of training efforts, including an expansion of the public-facing parts of training.
NLM will continue to make biomedical and health information literature available to the public, scientists, and clinicians, with a greater emphasis on public access and open science. The entire PubMed Central (PMC) repository of full-text literature is already freely available to the world, and with the increasing interest in open access to government-supported research findings, this repository is expected to grow. PMC will grow in new ways, too, such as enhancing the discoverability of data sets in support of published results made available with articles as supplementary material or in open repositories, and supporting greater transparency in scientific communication through the archiving of peer review documents. Many NLM resources will be moved to the cloud and continue to support efforts to make strides through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative to accelerate discovery by harnessing the power of commercial cloud computing. This will not only offer some logistical savings, it will also increase the discoverability of NLM’s resources.
NLM will play a bigger and more vital role in big science as it unfolds at NIH. Intramural researchers are expanding the application of deep learning technologies to clinical, biological, and image data. In collaboration with the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy, NLM will build and release new tools to help researchers leverage the FHIR standard to make clinical data more accessible for research, and to improve phenotype characterization. These initiatives will accelerate data sharing by advancing standard approaches to research data representation. And finally, NLM will advance its impact on and outreach to professional and lay communities around the country. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine has exciting plans to expand its training in research data management and to provide local health information education and support to help health care providers working with American Indian and Alaska Native populations address challenges such as mental health and HPV-related cancer.