Help NLM and NIH Shape a Data-Driven Future

Earth surrounded by rings comprised of the names of the institutes and centers at NIH

It’s a busy and exciting time for the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

This week we released NLM’s strategic plan, A Platform for Biomedical Discovery and Data-Powered Health.  Concurrently the National Institutes of Health announced a draft Strategic Plan for Data Science. The intersection of these two important documents demonstrates the alignment of the NLM vision within the overall thrust at NIH to transform discovery into health.

Positioning NLM for the Future

Representing the work of hundreds of NLM staff, national experts, and commenters from around the world, the NLM strategic plan lays out our current challenges and positions us to address these and emerging issues in biomedical research and public health.

From the need to be present in all environments where health and health care occur—and not just in structured, clinical settings—to the changing nature of libraries and how people pursue information, NLM is ready to embrace the spirit of open science and deliver on the promise of data-driven discovery.

As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, we’re going to get there by building on three pillars:

  • Establishing NLM as a platform for data-driven discovery and health
  • Reaching new users in new ways
  • Enhancing workforce excellence from citizens to scientists

So, what does that mean we will be doing?

We’ve already begun making data more accessible by allowing researchers to deposit data files as supplements to manuscripts they submit to PubMed Central. We’re helping to build the NIH Data Commons and working across NIH to improve identity and access management.

We’ve launched a new research program to devise ways to bring the power of data science into the hands of patients, and we’ll be investing further in data science training for librarians, biomedical researchers, and the bioinformatics community.

We’re also envisioning new research horizons.

We will be investing in novel approaches to curating data and literature, so we can make both more accessible more quickly and efficiently. We’re working with investigators to build needed analytical and visualization tools that can be applied to many different data types. We will be stimulating research in how health information can be presented to the public in fresh and innovative ways. And we will be devising new methods for exploring the literature and linking the key research elements: proposals, data, literature, models, and pipelines.

But that’s just the beginning.

As you read the NLM Strategic Plan, let us know if you see yourself in it.

Are your needs around health information and data represented? Does our vision of a data-driven future sound like something that will energize your research or simplify your work?  Will we be delivering something you need and can use—whether that’s genomic databases and the tools to interrogate them; open resources for citizen-scientists; clear, interactive interfaces for librarians and their patrons; or insights into health care’s tech future for students? What more might we do?

Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Please submit them via the NLM Strategic Plan page.

NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science

NLM does not venture into a data-focused future alone. NIH also works in and advocates for a research world that is increasingly data-driven, and NIH leadership clearly sees and appreciates the scientific opportunities presented by advances in data science.

To capitalize on those opportunities, NIH is developing a Strategic Plan for Data Science. As Dr. Jon Lorsch explained recently to NLM’s Board of Regents, this plan addresses NIH’s overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics to modernize what he termed the “NIH-funded biomedical data science ecosystem.”

NIH just published a draft of the strategic plan, along with a Request for Information, to seek input from stakeholders, including members of the scientific and academic communities, health professionals, patient, professional,and advocacy groups, the private sector, and interested members of the public.

I encourage your comments and suggestions on the NIH draft plan. Submit your responses online by March 30, 2018.


Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

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