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Harvard University Library Notes / November 2005 / No. 1328
New Directors Appointed, Biomedical Informatics Center Created at Countway Library of Medicine
Harvard Medical School (HMS) Dean Joseph Martin has announced new leadership for the Countway Library of Medicine. Martin recently announced the appointment of a new director, Isaac Kohane, and a new deputy director, Alexa McCray, as part of a reorganization that will give the facility greater responsibility for new knowledge management resources.
Both Kohane and McCray are recognized leaders in bioinformatics and digital library development. Kohane, HMS associate professor of pediatrics, is director of the Hospital Informatics Program at Children's Hospital Boston. McCray, former director of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, directed the development of several national information resources, including ClinicalTrials.gov.
In addition to these appointments, a new HMS-wide center has been created, the Center for Biomedical Informatics, which will be housed at the Countway and co-directed by Kohane and McCray.
"The selection of Zak and Alexa to lead the Countway highlights an expanding vision for our world-class library," said Martin.
Countway's new Center for Biomedical Informatics will promote initiatives that support biomedical research in an era of high-throughput technologies, data superabundance, and increased consumer access to information. Research conducted in the center will help meet the national demand for real-time, information-based public health.
The proposal to establish the center followed a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support an HMS project headed by Kohane and titled "Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside" (I2B2). Its goal is to address the bottleneck limiting the translation of genomic findings into clinical practice. Now, I2B2 is one of several projects that will be fostered by the new Center for Biomedical Informatics. Countway Library is a natural home for the center, since its mission focuses on information management and utilization of resources.
"Locating the organizational and scientific hub of the center within Countway Library allows us to take full advantage of the outstanding resources and capabilities of the library and its staff, and to strongly support a collaborative environment at HMS, one that includes researchers, librarians, clinicians, and other professional staff at HMS and its affiliated institutions," said McCray.
The center will provide a research and organizational structure for participating faculty from across the HMS community to seek biomedical informatics grants and foundation support, enabling more effective competition for large-scale governmental, industrial, and philanthropic initiatives.
"Information is the product of modern biomedical science," said Kohane. "And it is fitting that HMS establish a center to manage, disseminate, and translate this information for maximum gain by the research and clinical community."
As Rebecca Graham, Countway's director of library operations and interim director of its Center for the History of Medicine, noted, "With our new leadership and expanded structure, the Medical School will be providing new opportunities for librarians to enagage in and with biomedical informatics—which will lead to greater engagement with medical researchers on the quad and throughout the Longwood Medical Area. At the same time, we're looking at new ways to expose rich historical holdings in the Center for the History of Medicine. The coming year promises to be a time of opportunity and challenge for us all."
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