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Our Past 1984—2014

Three Decades of Progress

In this section, we ask you to share your memories of the National Library of Medicine during the period 1984-2014. Did you collaborate on an NLM program or service? Discover an NLM database that made your life better (or your research easier)? Receive an NLM grant? Serve on an advisory body? Work as a fellow, intern or postdoc? Take a memorable NLM tour? Whatever your story, we’d love to hear it. Add your text as a “Comment,” at right. If you’d like to link to an online image or video, please include that link with your comment.

  • Some NLM Milestones

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    The National Library of Medicine celebrates 175 years of service and information innovation.
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    Vocabulary standards supported or developed by NLM (LOINC, RxNorm, SNOMED CT) included in rule specifying certification criteria for electronic health record systems that Medicare and Medicaid providers must use to be eligible for “meaningful use” incentives included in the American … >>>
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    Emergency Access Initiative (EAI) launched. This collection of over 200 biomedical journals and more than 65 reference books was provided free of charge for persons responding to the January earthquake in Haiti. A partnership of the National Network of Libraries … >>>
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    NLM was named a partner in the multi-centered, $1.5 million Medical Heritage Project, sponsored by the Open Knowledge Commons. The project aims to digitize treasures from the world’s leading medical libraries. NLM will contribute digital versions of thousands of medical … >>>
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    Mobile MedlinePlus released. The new service provides authoritative health information for the growing audience of mobile Internet users by optimizing MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español for display on mobile devices.
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    MedlinePlus launched its Twitter feed, medlineplus4you. The popular and respected consumer health Web site led the way as NLM entered the world of social media. Twice-daily tweets inform audiences about the Library’s many consumer resources. Since then, NLM has launched … >>>
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    NLM and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine introduce NIH MedlinePlus Salud, an English-Spanish version of NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine. NIH’s first general-interest consumer magazine in Spanish, the magazine is produced in partnership with the National Alliance for … >>>
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    ClinicalTrials.gov releases novel system for reporting summary results of trials to implement key provision of FDA Amendments Act of 2007.
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    Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) Web site debuted. The DIMRC site provides access to quality disaster health information at all stages of preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery. Initially launched with a focus on NLM and NLM-supported resources and activities, … >>>
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    NLM joins the Bethesda Hospital Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP) at the request of the other partners (the NIH Clinical Center, the National Naval Medical Center, and Suburban Hospital ) to conduct informatics R & D related to disaster management and … >>>
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    The FDA Amendments Act mandates deposit of registration data and deposit of summary results data for an expanded set of trials of FDA regulated drugs, biologics, and devices.
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    The NIH Public Access Policy made mandatory as required by Congress. NIH-funded investigators must deposit peer-reviewed articles resulting from work supported by NIH in the PubMed Central archive for public release no later than 12 months after publication.
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    REMM (Radiation Event Medical Management) released. A joint venture with the HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and medical experts from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, REMM is a … >>>
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    The 2006-2016 Long Range Plan strategically sets the goals and priorities for NLM programs and services as they continue to become even more central to scientific discovery, treatment, and prevention. The plan is organized around four overall goals related to: … >>>
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    dbGaP, the database of Genotype and Phenotype, introduced. The resource was designed to archive and distribute data from genome wide association studies, which explore the association between specific genes (genotype information) and observable traits, such as blood pressure and weight, … >>>
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    ToxMystery debuted. This interactive learning site was designed to help children age seven to 10 find clues about toxic substances that can lurk in the home. A Spanish language version was released in October 2007.
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    NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, officially launched at a Capitol Hill event. This free quarterly magazinefeatures health news you can use from the National Institutes of Health. The magazine is a joint project with the Friends of the National Library of … >>>
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    The PubMed Central archive for the full text of biomedical journal articles became the official repository for NIH’s “Public Access” initiative. Scientists publishing peer-reviewed articles, whose work was supported by NIH grants, were encouraged to send their papers to PubMed … >>>
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    NLM launched WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders), designed specifically for handheld devices. WISER provides emergency responders with information about the area they are entering, including a list of hazardous substances, physical characteristics of chemicals and possible human health … >>>
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    The last issue of the printed Index Medicus was published. John Shaw Billings produced the first issue in 1879.
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    Tox Map introduced. This geographic information system uses maps of the United States to help users visually explore data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Toxics Release Inventory and Superfund Program. Tox Map pinpoints the location of harmful chemicals, … >>>
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    NLM partnered with the American College of Physicians Foundation to launch the Information Rx program, at a New Orleans, Louisiana press event. With this campaign, physicians can write “prescriptions” that direct their patients to the resources of MedlinePlus. The program … >>>
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    ClinicalTrials.gov received the Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
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    PubChem database of small molecules and corresponding bioassay released as a key component of the NIH Molecular Libraries initiative, providing access to data from commercial companies and university-based researchers as an aid to identification of potential research probes and new … >>>
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    Offsite back-up computer center, on a different power grid and with different connections to the Internet, established to provide hot backup and load-balancing to ensure uninterrupted access to NLM information services in the event of emergencies affecting the onsite computer … >>>
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    NIHSeniorHealth officially launched by NLM and the National Institute on Aging. This new Web site has special features that make it easily accessible to older citizens. One innovation is having the site read aloud to the user as he or … >>>
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    HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that NLM had successfully negotiated a license to support free US-wide use of SNOMED CT to as a key component of NLM’s Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus. The Metathesaurus includes vocabularies and coding systems … >>>
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    Genetics Home Reference (GHR) launched. GHR is NLM’s Web site for consumer information about genetic conditions and the genes or chromosomes associated with those conditions.
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    Household Products Database released. This consumer-friendly site provides comprehensive information about the potentially hazardous ingredients in thousands of common household products.
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    MedlinePlus en español (in Spanish) released, with nearly 500 topics, an illustrated medical encyclopedia and interactive health tutorials.
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    Tox Town launched. This consumer-friendly resource highlights sources of pollution and environmental hazards in a typical town. Later, a city, farm, port and the US-Mexico border region were added, as well as a Spanish-language version.
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    “Turning the Pages” launched. The first medically relevant work in this digital interface that allows users to “turn the pages” of rare books was Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal. NLM, the first US site for this technology pioneered by the … >>>
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    ClinicalTrials.gov launched to implement provisions of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (Public Law 105-115), that required creation of a centralized, consumer-friendly online listing of clinical trials of drugs for serious and life-threatening conditions. In an effort spearheaded by … >>>
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    PubMed Central premiered. This free digital archive for life sciences and biomedical literature expanded steadily to include more than two million full-text articles, including digitized backfiles of journals, some dating back to the early 1800s.
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    Profiles in Science, a Web site that makes available photographs, laboratory notebooks, audiovisuals, papers and other items from the archives of important figures of 20th century biology, medicine and public health, in context with biographical information and an explanation of … >>>
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    NLM introduced MedlinePlus and a new era of information services for the general public began. The public’s enthusiastic response to free MEDLINE on the Web prompted NLM to introduce more information services created expressly for them.
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    NLM began a telecommunications program for the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM), heading an international effort to provide malaria researchers in Africa with full access to the Internet and the resources of the World Wide Web.
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    MEDLINE became available free of charge on the World Wide Web. With support from US Senators Arlen Specter (PA) and Harkin (IA), the Library inaugurated free worldwide access to MEDLINE via PubMed, a new access system created by NLM’s NCBI. … >>>
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    A new era of major NLM exhibitions began with “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature,” organized by the History of Medicine Division. The following years saw major exhibitions on asthma (“Breath of Life”), the telegraph and the Internet (“The Once … >>>
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    NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg named by US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to be the US Coordinator for the G-7 Global Health Applications Project.
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    Internet Grateful Med (IGM) debuted, providing search assistance on NLM’s site and eliminating the need to load Grateful Med software packages on desktop machines. United States Senator Bill Frist (TN), a surgeon, introduced Internet Grateful Med at a Washington, DC … >>>
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    The “Visible Human Male” (1994) and “Visible Human Female” (1995) are released. Another outcome of the NLM Long Range Plan, each Visible Human is a series of datasets consisting of MRI, CT and photographic cryosection images of a human cadaver, … >>>
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    NLM awards a number of contracts and cooperative agreements for R & D related to health related applications of High Performance Computing and Communications, including telemedicine, health information exchange and related vocabulary standards, multimedia patient records, and related privacy and … >>>
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    National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR) established at NLM. (Public Law 103-43) to improve “the collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and dissemination of information on health services research, clinical practice guidelines, and on health care … >>>
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    Responsibility for the GenBank database transferred from National Institute of General Medical Services to NLM’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is now responsible for US participation in the International Nucleotide Sequence Consortium.
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    NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg named first head of multi-agency High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) initiative within the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position held concurrently with that of directing the Library. His performance as … >>>
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    First version of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Knowledge Sources released. The regularly updated and expanded UMLS resources subsequently became integral to biomedical natural language processing and concept-based retrieval applications around the world.
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    Congress established the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) and instructed NLM to work with the new agency to improve access to health services research and health care technology assessment information.
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    Congress established the National Center for Biotechnology Information (Public Law 100-607). Congressman (former Senator) Claude Pepper led the effort to establish the Center at NLM to develop new information technologies to aid in the understanding of the molecular processes that … >>>
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    Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database released by NLM, providing first public online access to data submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
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    The 1986 Long Range Plan was designed to strategically guide the Library in using its human, physical, and financial resources to fulfill its mission in a time of great change in science and widespread access to online information. Sixteen goals … >>>
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    Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) R & D project initiated, with the ambitious goal of helping computers to understanding biomedical meaning, irrespective of the different terminologies and classifications used in medical information sources, including the biomedical literature and patient records.
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    Grateful Med software package introduced. Innovative interface software was installed on desktop computers to allow searching of the millions of journal article references in MEDLINE by individual health professionals and others without specialized search training.
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    NLM celebrated its 150th anniversary. Activities included lecture series, celebratory banquets and concerts, film festivals and barbeques. President Ronald Reagan and the Congress sent their congratulations.
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    The DOCLINE document request system implemented for free use by health sciences libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Key features included the ability to import journal article reference data from MEDLINE so it did not have to … >>>
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    Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, Professor of Information Science and Professor of Pathology, University of Missouri, Columbia, appointed Director of NLM. A scientist and pioneer in the application of computers to medicine, Dr. Lindberg had previously served NLM on its grant … >>>

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