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Colleagues Pay Tribute to Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, Retiring After Three Decades of NLM Leadership

Outgoing NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg.
Photo courtesy of Ernie Branson, NIH

On March 30, 2015, the Friends of the National Library of Medicine joined with leaders from across the National Institutes of Health and across the library, informatics, and related arenas to honor Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, as he retired as NLM's director after 30-plus years of outstanding leadership and service. The tributes reflect the range of Don's influence and inspiration.

Dr. Vivian Pinn
Photo courtesy of Ernie Branson, NIH

Peter Reinecke
Photo courtesy of Ernie Branson, NIH

NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, kicked off the accolades by praising Don's vision and his passion for transforming access to medical information. "He's been committed all along to delivering high quality health information to all," Collins said.

Don accomplished that by weaving together medical information and computer technology in ways that might have once been considered unrealistic. Along the way, he shaped the entire field of medical informatics and helped establish the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a course-changing development that could not have happened without significant support from Congress.

Peter Reinecke, former staffer to Congressman Claude Pepper, remembered the impact Don made when he came to Capitol Hill to brief Pepper on his vision for NCBI. "Dr. Lindberg immediately captivated Congressman Pepper with his explanation of why the Center was so important; why it needed to be at the National Library of Medicine; and the impact it could have," Reinecke said. With Pepper's support, Don changed the path of NLM and of biomedical research.

"The kind of capabilities you put at our fingertips made what we do possible."
–Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Vivian Pinn, MD, former Director of the Office of Research on Women's Health, commended Don for his collaborative work on ClinicalTrials.gov, which helped involve more women and minorities in clinical studies. "Establishing ClinicalTrials.gov really made a difference for us, our outreach, and our purpose," she said.

Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases agreed. "The kind of capabilities you put at our fingertips made what we do possible."

On that score, we're all in agreement, and I join Dr. Collins in being amazed at how Don understood what capabilities we would need years before the rest of us.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Photo courtesy of Ernie Branson, NIH

They say that hindsight is 20/20, but Don Lindberg showed that foresight can, at times, be just as accurate. He envisioned a captivating, expansive future and brought it to fruition. NLM, NIH, bioinformatics, librarianship, and so many other areas owe so much of their present success and future accomplishments to Don's vision and his leadership. We have all been exceedingly fortunate to have had him at the NLM helm all these years.

Glen P. Campbell, Chairman Friends of the National Library of Medicine

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Summer 2015 Issue: Volume 10 Number 2 Page Inside Front Cover