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Kenneth Snelson's Tree sculpture in front of the Lister Hill Center.Through its biomedical informatics research, the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications (LHNCBC) develops advanced health information resources and software tools that are widely used in biomedical research and by health IT professionals, health care providers, and consumers. Established by a joint resolution of the United States Congress in 1968, LHNCBC is an intramural research and development division of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Seeking to improve access to high quality biomedical information for individuals around the world, the LHNCBC conducts and supports research and development in the dissemination of high quality imagery, medical language processing, high-speed access to biomedical information, intelligent database systems development, multimedia visualization, knowledge management, data mining, and machine-assisted indexing.

LHNCBC research staff is drawn from a variety of disciplines including medicine, computer science, library and information science, linguistics, engineering, and education. Research projects are generally conducted by teams of individuals of varying backgrounds and often involve collaboration with other divisions of the NLM, other institutes at the NIH, other organizations within the Department of Health and Human Services, and academic and industry partners. Staff members regularly publish their research results in the medical informatics, computer and information sciences, and engineering communities. Our Medical Informatics Training Program brings talented individuals to the Lister Hill Center to learn from and collaborate with our research staff.

Research and development conducted by the Lister Hill Center has led to many advances in biomedical communication and information dissemination. Examples of advances resulting from Center research include:

  • Genetics Home Reference - Genetic research and information are often difficult for consumers to understand because they are generally available only in technical language. The Genetics Home Reference website provides brief, consumer-friendly summaries of genetic conditions and related gene research. Summaries describe symptoms, diagnosis and treatment procedures, genetic cause(s), frequency of conditions and how conditions are inherited.
  • Newborn Screening Coding and Terminology Guide - The Newborn screening web site incorporates electronic health data standards (LOINC, SNOMED CT, UCUM, and HL7) in recording and transmitting newborn screening test results. The Guide includes standard codes and terminology for newborn tests and conditions.
  • Open-i - Open-i is an experimental multimedia search engine that retrieves and displays structured MEDLINE citations augmented by image-related text and concepts and linked to images based on image features.
  • Profiles in Science® - Although the history behind biomedical research discoveries is often unknown to the general public, many stories are compelling and illustrate the influence biomedical research has on modern society. Profiles in Science allows users the opportunity to delve into the history behind revolutionary discoveries by providing access to the archival collections of pioneering biomedical scientists of the 20th century. Collections contain books, journal volumes, pamphlets, diaries, letters, manuscripts, photographs, audiotapes, video clips, and other material.
  • Visible Human Project® - Revolutionizing how anatomy is taught and medicine is practiced throughout the world, the Visible Human Project's digital cadavers have taken medical education out of the dark ages. A Colorado team of researchers funded by the NLM sliced thousands of razor-thin tissue cross-sections from one male and one female cadaver. Each view was digitally photographed and stored creating data that can be converted into full-color, three-dimensional images. These extraordinary images have opened up a new world to researchers by allowing users to take a virtual tour of the body.
  • Unified Medical Language System® - The ability to provide timely and accurate medical information is an essential aspect of the National Library of Medicine. Center staff continue to develop sources that help individuals find the information they seek. Sources developed include the Metathesaurus®, Semantic Network, and SPECIALIST Lexicon.