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widely. Thus, in addition to the traditional route of publication, we are employing a number of other devices to facilitate sharing of genome data with the scientific community. We will be supporting public databases where all the information will be collected and made easily accessible to all who want it.
In addition, in many of our grants, especially in all human genome research center grants, we are supporting "outreach" activities, in addition to providing research support. Outreach activities include distribution of materials to all investigators who request them, collaboration with outside investigators, training opportunities, and opportunities for visiting investigators to use the most up-to-date equipment and technology on site. In addition, we are encouraging applicants for NCHGR support to develop new and innovative means for making data and materials widely available prior to publication. The adequacy of investigators' distribution plans is, in many cases, taken into account as a criterion for award of a grant.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
STATEMENT OF DR. DONALD LINDBERG, DIRECTOR
BUDGET REQUEST Senator HARKIN. Dr. Lindberg, I hate to ask you to stay. Well, let's see. I have 8 minutes left.
Dr. Lindberg, your request is $100.5 million, 10 percent more than last year. Could you just give us a brief summary? I would hate to have you sit here for another 15 minutes while I go vote.
Dr. LINDBERG. I would be happy to be brief. I am very pleased to be here, Senator Harkin.
The National Library of Medicine's task is to acquire, organize, and disseminate the information that results from the discoveries and the funding of the rest of NIH and the biomedical community.
Our work has gone very well in the last year. Compared with previous years, there were more papers published and indexed, more books published and cataloged, and more online computer inquiries. There are now 5 million such inquiries a year.
OUTREACH In addition, there are certain initiatives that this committee and the House have encouraged that I should report to you. In 1988, this committee gave us specific language that said I should publicize the products and services of the National Library of Medicine. That has been tremendously helpful to us. That, combined with an outreach study by Dr. Michael DeBakey and 20 colleagues, has set us on a course of putting to excellent use the additional funds that the Congress has provided specifically for outreach. There are now about 50 programs in 38 States. So, we are trying our level best to make sure all of those products and services become available to every health care professional in the United States.
NATIONAL CENTER FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY INFORMATION Even though time is short, I should report to you about the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), also created by congressional action. Among
other things, the NCBI has the responsibility to be sure that the sequencing and mapping information that results from the human genome program is available as quickly and as efficaciously as possible to the investigators who participate in the program and to those health care practitioners who will ultimately use and benefit from it. All that has been going extremely well. There are now 28 remarkably talented young professionals in the center doing this work under Dr. David Lipman's direction.
In terms of breakthroughs, I think it is interesting that in the course of the last year, the NCBI staff have been able to move from use of the Cray supercomputers at Frederick, which happily the National Cancer Institute let us use, to do the same extensive calculations on smaller machines, silicon graphics microparallel processors. The net result is that in the NCBI
laboratory, they can take any sequence and compare it against the entire 40 million sequences that are held in the data bank and get an answer in 5 seconds. Even better, they can offer to any collaborator across the country who is attached to the Internet this same service-log-in, printout, and so forth in 15 seconds.
HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING AND COMMUNICATIONS Now, that brings me to the last point, Mr. Chairman. Probably the most exciting thing that has happened for us in the last year has been our participation last summer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy's White House program on High Performance Computing and Communications. That is one of the Presidential initiatives. Accompanying the President's budget is this publication that describes the program. I will leave you one.
This is a major effort, $150 million of new money this year on top of $680 million a year already being spent by the four major science agencies: DARPA in the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, and NSF. During this last year we have joined that effort, I am proud to say. In fact, NLM is the only biomedical component. So, in a sense we are representing as strongly as we can, a token for NIH, a token for HHS, and a kind of a pale representation of what should be the entire biomedical enterprise.
But at least we are participating and trying to develop biomedical applications and uses for these new systems. Dr. Bromley, head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Eric Block, the former head of NSF, have said that we must plan for community benefits from computers that have not been invented yet using networks that have not been developed. But, of course, there are prototypes in both cases that are very much better than anything most investigators have. It is our task to be sure that the biomedical institutions get ready to use the new capabilities and use them wisely.
The High Performance Computing and Communications initiative will also work effectively with the human genome project. The rapid analyses that I described as possible today will have to be 1,000 times faster in the future, as Dr. Watson pointed out. We are not really behind now in analytic capability, but we know we have to do 1,000 times better in the future or the whole system won't work.
I do appreciate the past support of the Congress for NLM. This year's President's budget is $100,554,000, as you mentioned.
I would be pleased to respond to questions if your time permits. [The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF DR. DONALD LINDBERG
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
I welcome the opportunity to
tell you about the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and its increasing
ability to provide American health
ofessionals with the sophisticated
Information services they needed to treat patients and carry out biomedical
This year the NLM celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Its online
In 1971, the Library made available for searching some
300.000 references; two dozen major medical libraries made up the network at that time. Today, 20 years later, more than 13 million records are offered to a still-growing network of health professionals. We hear frequently from physicians, scientists, and others about how MEDLINE can provide information vital to treating patients and conducting research. Current Activities
During 1991 the Library will add its 50,000th user code to the NLM online
The growth of the network, as measured by the number of
health professionals who have access to it, continues at a rate of about 50
percent a year.
The increase is fueled by the continuing popularity of
Grateful Med, NLM's software that allows users of personal computers to have
rapid and easy access to MEDLINE and to NLM's other major databases. More
than 30,000 copies of the software have been distributed.
Even these figures belle the extent of MEDLINE use within the American
health community. Virtually all major and many smaller health-related
organizations have access to NLM's databases, frequently through their
One "user code , " then, can provide MEDLINE access to
many health professionals.
Other routes of access are the large commercial
database vendors who lease MEDLINE from the NLM, and the rapidly growing
number of people around the world who depend on commercial MEDLINE/CD-ROM products for searching NLM's database. Not counting MEDLINE access via
commercial products, there were almost 4.8 million searches over the Library's
online network centered on its computers in Bethesda, Maryland.
network is now being used for the first time to disseminate NIH "clinical
alerts" so that health professionals can be notified of life-saving
Information well before formal publication in a journal.
The NLM issued its
first "clinical alert" on pediatric AIDS on January 18, 1991.
In response to recommendations from the Congress, NLM began a wide
been on improving access by Individual health professionals to NLM'S
information products and services, especially by persons presently
unaffiliated with an institution and/or who are located in rural or other
medically underserved settings. Many of the latter locations are comprised of
predominantly minority populations.
Through special enhancements to the existing Regional Medical Library
(RML) contracts, NLM has funded demonstration projects in 12 states to test
various means of increasing awareness of and access to NLM's Information
services by health professionals located in underserved areas.
Some of the
projects are being carried out directly by the RML; others Involve the RML subcontracting with another network library. The 3,000-member Regional
Medical Library Network itself is undergoing important changes in FY 1991.
The seven RML contracts are being renegotiated with a new emphasis on outreach activities, and an eighth Regional Medical Library is being created for the
New England area.
Another recently developed outreach-related progran provides for small
competitive contracts awarded directly by NLM to network libraries for the
purpose of introducing online searching via Grateful Med to health
professionals in rural and inner-city areas.
Thirty such contracts were
awarded in FY 1990 to network libraries from Hawait to Maine.
NLM's Extramural Programs are also being oriented toward outreach. Two
new grant categories - Information Access and Information Systems -- foster
access to information resources and services utilizing today's computer and
communications technologies. Among some recently awarded Information Access Grants aimed at small and medium-size hospitals are several in Appalachia to
Introduce Grateful Med to health professionals there.
An Information Systems
Grant which is directed towards larger hospitals and medical centers, was
awarded to the University of Miami's medical center library to assist in
developing an AIDS information service for health professionals in Southeast
Both grant types have significant outreach potential.