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June 3, 2016
Brennan Appointed New NLM Director

Dr. Patricia F. Brennan
Dr. Patricia F. Brennan


Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan has been named the next director of the National Library of Medicine. She will be the first female and first nurse to serve as head of the library in its 180-year history.

“Dr. Brennan brings her incredible experience of having cared for patients as a practicing nurse, improved the lives of home-bound patients by developing innovative information systems and services designed to increase their independence, and pursued cutting-edge research in data visualization and virtual reality,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, who announced the appointment on May 11.

Brennan is currently at the University of Wisconsin, where she is the Lillian L. Moehlman Bascom professor, School of Nursing and College of Engineering. She also leads the Living Environments Laboratory at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery that develops new ways for effective visualization of high-dimensional data.

Brennan has been active in many medical associations. She is a past president of the American Medical Informatics Association, a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Collins highlighted her accomplishments in the field. “Patti developed ComputerLink, an electronic network designed to reduce isolation and improve self-care among home care patients,” he said. “She directed HeartCare, a web-based information and communication service that helps home-dwelling cardiac patients recover faster and with fewer symptoms. She also directed Project HealthDesign, an initiative designed to stimulate the next generation of personal health records.”

Brennan received a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Delaware, a master of science in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of Wisconsin. Following 7 years of clinical practice in critical care and psychiatric nursing, she held several academic positions at Marquette University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Wisconsin.

In addition, she spent a year at NLM in 2002-2003 as a visiting senior scientist at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications.

Collins said, “Dr. Brennan is ideally suited to lead the NLM in the era of precision medicine, as the library becomes the epicenter for biomedical data science, not just at NIH, but across the biomedical research enterprise.”

Acting NLM Director Betsy Humphreys said, “In my view, Dr. Brennan’s expertise and experience—and her focus on developing health information systems that support patients, caregivers and the general public—are a great fit for NLM at this point in the library’s history. She will also bring a valuable perspective to NIH as it launches the Precision Medicine Initiative cohort program.”

Brennan is expected to begin as NLM director in August.

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