NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NCBI Director Lipman Departs

Dr. David J. Lipman
Dr. David J. Lipman

Dr. David J. Lipman, who has served as director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information since its creation almost 30 years ago, is leaving NIH to become chief science officer at Impossible Foods, a new company applying molecular biology to the food industry. 

NCBI creates and maintains a series of databases relevant to biotechnology and biomedicine and is a world-renowned and trusted resource for bioinformatics tools and services. Major NCBI databases include GenBank for DNA sequences and PubMed, one of the most heavily used sites in the world for the search and retrieval of biomedical information.

“It’s hard to think of anyone at NIH who has had a greater impact on the way research is conducted around the world than David Lipman,” noted NLM director Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan. “Under his visionary leadership, NCBI has greatly improved access to biomedical information and genomic data for scientists, health professionals and the public worldwide—something we now practically take for granted.”

Under Lipman’s leadership, NCBI has become an essential resource for biomedical researchers, practitioners, patients as well as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. During his tenure, NCBI has grown from a handful of staff working to link biomedical literature and DNA sequences to a staff of hundreds that produce more than 40 integrated databases that serve scientists and the public. Each day, more than 3 million users access NCBI databases and download more than 50 terabytes of data.

Lipman has been an advocate for promoting open access to the world’s biomedical literature and launched PubMed in 1997, followed by the full-text repository, PubMed Central (PMC), in 2000. He was instrumental in implementing the NIH Public Access Policy whereby NIH-funded papers are made publicly available in PMC.

He has also maintained an active research program in influenza evolution and molecular evolution of the genome and proteome. Working with CDC, FDA and USDA, he has developed a system for applying whole genome sequencing for the surveillance and detection of foodborne pathogens. These methods have significantly improved the speed of detecting outbreaks of foodborne disease. 

His research in creating rapid sequence comparison algorithms such as FASTA and BLAST has earned him an international reputation and his journal articles describing the methods are among the most highly cited in biology.

Among many honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the International Society of Computational Biology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American College of Medical Informatics. He received the Jim Gray eScience Award from Microsoft in 2013.

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