This is just a quick post to let you know that recordings from the National Library of Medicine Theater Presentations are now available online. The recordings range from 16 to 27 minutes in length and cover a variety of topics including PubMed, the MyNCBI redesign, MedlinePlus Connect, LinkOutdisaster health information and more.

In the category of better later than never, the Ignite presenters’ abstracts are below! Catch the replays on the online conference site.

Title: Empowering Health Ministry Leaders
Author: Judy F. Burnham
(Director), U of South Alabama Biomedical Library
Abstract: Research has shown that the church is a strong influence in the African American community. While many of the churches have a health ministry and share many of the same challenges, often the ministry leaders work in isolation. The purpose of this project was to form a network of Health Ministry Leaders (HML) for sharing and for collaboration.  Health ministry leaders from ten African American churches in the three zip codes of highest health disparity in Mobile AL participated in the project. Health Ministry Leaders completed a pre-project survey with questions about their congregations’ health information needs and how those needs were met and each HML’s information seeking skills. Demographics on the HML and the church were also collected. The project funded essential equipment for the HMLs: small laptop computers, printers and heath check tools. HMLs attended weekly computer training classes and monthly meetings for information sharing and for collaborating on community health fairs. They completed a post-project questionnaire determining impact. Participating HML reported enhancement of their ministry through the project.  They felt the project met the stated goals.  Information needs were addressed as well as providing needed health check tools. Working together on a community health fair provided networking opportunities with other area churches.  Networking opportunities will be continued through the Center for Healthy Communities Community Health Advocate program. The project helped HML better meet the health information needs of their congregation and provided an opportunity for them to network with other HMLs on common goals.

Title: Solo Hospital Librarian Road Show
Author: Jessica Gunther
(Librarian), Mayo Health System
Abstract: Inspired by recent buzz about elevator speeches in the library community, solo hospital librarian, Jessica Gunther, takes to the road to promote library services to the Mayo Clinic Health System’s western region. New to the organization and her role at the start of 2011, Gunther was immediately faced with discussion of hospital space limitations, convergence, and whispers that the library space would become a conference room. Some rethinking (and lucky, good timing) helped transform the challenge into an opportunity. With the 2011 health system re-branding, regionalization, and overall environment of change, Gunther expanded her audience to include the entire region; she now actively promotes library services to staff at several locations, along with those at the hospital where the library is physically located. Armed with a stereotype- defeating attitude, a quick, “less is more” presentation, and a boatload of enthusiasm, she capitalizes on the first few minutes of staff meetings at various locations to increase awareness and demand for library services. She will share the strategies and outcomes of her efforts, true to form, in a high-powered, five-minute Ignite Talk.

Title: Using tag clouds to analyze responses to open-ended survey questions
Author: Sarah K. McCord
(Head of Reference & Instructional Services and Associate Professor), MA College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
Abstract: Analyzing answers to open-ended questions on surveys can be time consuming and tedious, although the information gained from asking these kinds of questions is often very valuable.  The use of tag cloud generators can provide a quick “rough cut” of the ideas in open-ended responses.  Tag clouds, or weighted lists, are a visual method of displaying text frequency information, where the font size and prominence of a word in the display indicates the frequency of the use of that word. Freely available online tools were used to create tag clouds for open-ended responses in several sources of data, including student evaluations of teaching.  The results provide a visual guide to the most frequently used words in the given texts, and include links to those words in context.  While this method does not replace traditional techniques for qualitative data analysis, using a tag cloud generator as a first step in analyzing free-text data can help bring recurring ideas to the surface without the need for expensive software or large amounts of time, thereby increasing the likelihood that data gathered from open-ended questions will be put to use.

Title: Crowdsourcing Your Diagnosis
Author: Sharon Leslie
(Public Services Librarian), Georgia State University
Abstract: Obviously, the WWW has changed how patients obtain information about health issues.  Access to online medical records allows individuals to track their own disease and health process.  But what happens when several hundred people get together to discuss their illnesses and compare their progress to each other?  Several websites are designed to let patients do just that.  “CureTogether” ( and “Patients Like Me” ( provide the technology (graphs, data, tracking ability, etc.) while the patients themselves provide the data (lab results, demographics, treatments, personal experiences). Searching the sites lets patients find others with similar symptoms and relate these in discussion forums.  The Society for Participatory Medicine ( exists to “… advance the understanding of physicians …” about this concept and engage patients as active participants in their healthcare.  Will patients continue to research diseases when they have each other from whom to get first-hand data?  Should patients use this information to design their own treatment?  Will physicians and researchers be willing to encourage this type of interaction?  Will e-doctors and e-patients become the norm?  How will librarians assist in this movement?

Title: Clinical Use of iPads
Author: Laura K. Cousineau
, MLS (Assistant Director, Program Development & Resource Integration), Medical University of South Carolina Library
Abstract: With funding from a grant from the National Library of Medicine, the MUSC Library is investigating the clinical use of iPads in the Department of Pediatrics.  Seven iPads were distributed: 5 to residents, one to an attending physician/faculty, and one to the librarian who rounds in the Children’s Hospital.  A survey was designed to log usage, divided into different categories of use.  The data collected included use of specific resources as well as the purpose for the use, such as patient education or accessing patient information.  The information from this survey forms the basis for a behavioral and attitudinal survey that will be conducted in late spring. For our Ignite session, we will show picture of the teams at work with their iPads and reveal some of the results from the survey.

Title: An Anytime, Anywhere Elective that Students  and Administrators Love
Author: Gale G. Hannigan
(Informatics for Medical Education Librarian), Texas A&M Medical Sciences Library
Abstract: The Computers & Medical Information Elective is a fourth-year offering that almost every Texas A&M medical student completes. The attraction is that it is totally online and can be completed wherever there is a good Internet connection. Also, it is offered in one, two, or three-week versions. Students enroll throughout the year and no request for adding or changing or dropping the elective has been denied in its more than 15 years of existence. The Office of Student Affairs loves to recommend this elective as students face scheduling changes and crises. These features get students enrolled but what they come to appreciate is that the content is relevant, timely, and useful, and they can accomplish some of their own goals while learning about resources and skills related to information management. What the instructor likes is developing new modules that reflect the variety of topics in and the dynamic nature of health information management, and the ability to use course management software (Blackboard) to deliver the curriculum and monitor students’ progress.  The elective consists of self-directed but structured modules that guide students through a topic. Topics include information resources (ebooks, drug information, consumer health, diagnostic-assist programs), issues (electronic health records, curriculum, information ethics, comparative health), skills (residency interviewing, time management, statistics), and self-selected activities (special topics and underutilized technology).  Each module provides a structure but also gives students choices when possible. The elective is purposely “decompressed” to encourage students to explore and have some fun while learning.

Title: More than a Handful: Mobile Health Apps and Sites
Author: Kelli Ham
, Consumer Health and Technology Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, UCLA Biomedical Library
Abstract: Using the mobile devices in our pockets, we now have the ability to access nearly all the health information in the world. Thousands of mobile health resources are being marketed to health professionals and consumers: some are high quality, while others contain dubious content. Some are free, and others require a fee. Keeping up with the sheer volume of apps and mobile sites is nearly impossible. By attending this session, librarians will get the inside scoop on the best free apps and sites for clinical resources and consumer-level health information from authoritative sources.  Quick essentials for evaluating apps before downloading will be provided. The presentation will wrap up with ways to keep current with new apps and sites as they become available.

Title: WTF? (Worse Than Failure) – Rethinking Medical Librarianship
Author: David A. Nolfi
(Health Sciences Librarian), Duquesne University
Abstract: What’s Worse Than Failure? Becoming irrelevant. Why the Fuss? We are experiencing sweeping changes in the information environment, world economy, and user behavior. It’s time for medical librarians to question assumptions, rethink decisions, and make bold changes. This Ignite presentation will address why we must: 1. Accept that the Internet does many things better we do; 2. Rely on continuous changes in user behavior; 3. Embrace changes in the information environment; 4. Emphasize mobile content; 5. Cooperate with our competitors; 6. View vendors as strategic partners; 7. Focus on institutional mission rather than library mission; 8. Let go of the past and redefine our roles; 9. Promote ourselves, our libraries, and our profession. To stimulate thinking and interest, this presentation will irreverently introduce these topics using thought-provoking and humorous statements, such as, “It’s the institutional mission, stupid!” and “The 90s called, they want their library back.”  The presentation aims to engage audience members and challenge them to try new approaches and take calculated risks. As medical librarians we need to be Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless. It’s time to face the future or run the risk of facing the consequences and seeing our roles diminished. When we meet these challenges head on, using our unique abilities and skills, we can Win The Future!

Title: P2P…University!
Author: Amy Donahue
(Librarian), Aurora Medical Center Grafton
Abstract: Background (slides 1-7): Peer to peer networking is a  familiar concept in technology circles, but it’s also a growing movement in open education, thanks to Peer-2-Peer University (P2PU), which provides “”learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything”" (  P2PU has provided a platform where people around the world can learn from each other, with a focus on the use of open tools and resources.  Case Study (slides 8-15): My own experiences as a past participant (in “”The Anatomy of a Web Request”"), as a current co-facilitator (leading a group at the same time that I am learning the content, for “”Intro to PHP”"), and as a future course creator (“”Online Health Information: Beyond WebMD”") provide a look at the different ways individuals can be involved with P2PU (along with some of the challenges).   Conclusion (slides 16-20): P2PU is gaining momentum, and medical librarians have many reasons to be aware of it.  We can take advantage of the platform to reach out to our users when we don’t have access to expensive technology.  We can support its open access initiatives.  And we can learn all sorts of cool new things ourselves for free!

Title: VIVO:  Click…search…discover…collaborate
Author: Hannah F. Norton
(Reference & Liaison Librarian), University of Florida Health Science Center Library
Abstract: Have you ever struggled to find information about research at your institution?  Learn how VIVO solves this problem by enabling research discovery and collaboration.  VIVO is an open source semantic web application designed to showcase faculty members’ interests, activities, and accomplishments through interlinked researcher profiles.  Initially developed at Cornell University, VIVO is being expanded for national use by the University of Florida and six partner institutions through a $12.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.  Navigate the University of Florida’s scholarly environment from within the VIVO interface to see VIVO’s unique browse and search functionality in action.  Experience the interconnectedness of VIVO data, exemplified by visualizations of existing collaborator networks.  VIVO integrates diverse information from trusted sources across an institution and beyond, including people, publications, and grants.  The VIVO project provides a great opportunity for libraries and librarians to engage with faculty and students and further support their institution’s research and practice.  Library staff have taken on leadership roles in VIVO’s development and implementation, harnessing the library’s role as a neutral and trustworthy entity and librarians’ ability to interact with researchers from across disciplines and foster collaboration.  Learn how VIVO can help connect researchers at your institution today and enable the next generation of discovery and collaboration tomorrow.

Title: The Statistics Behind One Library’s Changing Space Needs
Author: Bart Ragon (Associate Director for Library Technology & Development) & Elaine Attridge (Marketing & Communications Librarian), The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Abstract: Library services are evolving and so must our physical space.  As we move into the future, it will become important to configure the space as effectively as possible to best meet patron’s needs and efficiently utilize our resources. Our library is undergoing two projects to help us plan for the future: “Spacewalkers” and “Who Are You?” Spacewalkers was designed to collect data on Library computer usage.  Library staff use an iPad for data collection that is retained in a cloud based storage system. This database is imported into GIS mapping software to provide heatmap representations of computer usage throughout the Library. By defining the hot spots of usage, we hope to evolve our space into the optimal configuration. “Who Are You?” is intended to challenge our assumptions about who is using the Library’s space and when.  By collecting this data we can accurately determine which user groups are predominantly utilizing the library’s physical space. This information will affect the Library’s direct marketing strategy and lead to the potential for innovations with its space. Both of these projects gather data at random intervals to provide a reliable sampling. Preliminary results will be shared from these projects that are one small step for patrons, one giant leap for librarian kind!

This is Part 2 of Rethinking Assessment, section programming sponsored by the Public Services Section and others. If you missed Part 1, describing the first two presentations, read here.  This post covers the last two presentations in this Monday morning session.

Using Information Management Competencies Drives Objectives and Evaluation – Marie Ascher and Diana Cunningham – New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY

These librarians are working to incorporate information management competencies into three programs at the New York Medical College and this presentation was a description of the process. Competencies are driven by the accrediting body of any particular discipline. In medicine, for example, the competencies come from AAMC, LCME, and ACGME.  Competency based education focuses on learner performance (learner outcomes) to reach specific objectives of the curriculum. So, the first piece of the process was to examine the current curriculum and competencies and then align the library information management competencies with that of the accrediting bodies. This was an extensive effort and it lead to goals, learning objectives, activites/exercises and evaluation methods for the liaison librarians.

You can view the list of information management competencies at the library website:

In concluding, we are reminded that the project is a work in progress. Key take-a-way – speaking with faculty in terms of competencies and accreditation requirements seemed to bring about “light bulb” moments with administrators and deans.  Expanding information management competencies into the school’s curriculum is a win-win situation for both parties.

Assessing Reference Services using the Reference Effort Assessment Data (READ) Scale – Penny Coppernoll-Blach, Dominque Turnbow, Univ of California – San Diego, CA

By using the READ Scale, the librarians at UC San Diego recorded service desk statistics more specifically than had previously been done. The collected data will be analyzed to better inform decisions regarding service points and staffing.

The READ Scale, developed at Carnegie Mellon University, has six categories (or levels) which allow for recording the effort of each reference encounter. The levels include: directional, informational, requires only minimal specific knowledge, search/some instruction, extensive instruction and substantial time using multiple resources, and very extensive instruction or consultation taking 90 minutes or more.

To get started, staff was trained and then a 3-week pilot project was run to get everyone used to the new data keeping strategy. Besides the level of question, staff also recorded how the question came to them – walk-in, chat, telephone, text message, off-desk, etc.  For purposes of this project, the staff kept track of service desk encounters using the READ Scale during winter and spring quarters.

Preliminary examination of the data collected showed 99% of the questions coming from levels one, two, or three, with 94% from levels one or two. With the numerous data elements recorded, the staff will be able to tell, for example, when is the busiest day/hour, what is the most used contact method (email, text, etc), and from these answers and many more, will be able to schedule staff to make the best use of everyone’s time.

Learn more about the READ Scale here:

The Public Services Section along with co-sponsors Clinical Librarians and Evidence-Based Health Care SIG, the Library Marketing SIG, the Research Section and the Osteopathic Libraries SIG presented four papers on the topic of “Rethinking Assessment.” Read about the first two here:

Assessment Journey: Warning Signs, Change Indicators, New Opportunities – Barbara Abu-Zeid, Amy Allison, Sandra Franklin, and Anna Getselman – Emory University, GA

Have you ever heard of a “customer segmentation matrix?” Well, neither had I until this presentation. These librarians used the customer segmentation matrix to gather and then organize information like characteristics, preferences, needs, length of program, demographics, or tenure about each of their user groups. Using the matrix, combined with their service and instruction activities for each user group, the librarians were able to better inform their decisions on what and how much data to keep. They defined data elements and developed data collection tools and procedures. Is it worth the work? Yes. Librarians are in a changing environment with a noticeable increase in the complexity of service offerings and an expansion of instruction activities. Creating the matrix provided a visual representation of all the library does for its users. By creating more specific data elements, the librarians kept more complete statistics on what they were actually doing and how much time it took, thus making it easier to describe the impact of the library services.

Pervasive Assessment: Integrating Assessment into the Organization – Betsy Kelly and Claire Hamasu – NNLM MidContinental Region

The presenters gave a convincing argument for making assessment pervasive in our organizations. That makes good sense to me. Why should we do it? According to the presenters, it takes everyone to work together in order to stay on track to achieve goals, it helps everyone keep abreast of changes, together you provide each other with positive reinforcement, it de-silos your library, and you will have evidence of accountability from everyone to help show value to your stakeholders. Advice included: understand your environment, collect only data you are going to use, use a standardized form, (perhaps a logic model) to compile input from everyone and lastly, make assessment the formal responsibility of every librarian in your library. Be patient, pervasive assessment takes a lot of time.

As many of you know, I have been struggling with ways to effectively be the eyes and the ears of the poster session for those unable to attend the conference. So I thought I would try a new format.

I have a couple of interviews of people who presented posters at the conference and I’ll keep bringing you more as time continues, or at least until they close this blog. Below are interviews of Sally Gore and Lisa Palmer, who presented “Mitosis and the Life Cycle: A Metaphor for the Transformation of the Research Librarian” and Donna Kafel, who presented “Teaching Research Data Management: An Undergraduate/Graduate Curriculum” and “Building an E-science Portal for Librarians: A Model of Collaboration”. Enjoy.

Talk about rethinking and reimaging! Mitosis and Librarianship is quite an interesting visual and metaphor for the profession in general. You described old tools as the nucleus that gives rise to new tools. Was there a mutagenic agent? What’s the history behind the change?


Thanks for asking about our mutation! We reorganized the Library about 2 and 1/2 years ago now. The Associate Director for Reference Services was retiring, something that caused the Management Team of the Library to rethink the current structure and services we provided, and to see if this change could lend itself to our doing some new things in the areas of scholarly communications and research support. The former Reference Department was dissolved and the librarians assigned to two areas; one focusing on the medical school and clinical staff, the other directed towards serving the researchers and PhD students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS). Lisa and I fell to the latter.

Up to this point, the Library really hadn’t had any direct, concerted efforts towards providing the research community with support. We did, however, have a successful institutional repository – a tool that owed a lot of its success to the GSBS and its dean. We leveraged this success, along with the recently inacted NIH Public Access Policy, to strike up conversations with researchers. We became experts in the areas of digital repositories, open and public access, author rights, and other things related to scholarly communication that had a direct impact upon the work this community does. We could share our expertise in any of these areas, and follow it up with talking about all of the other resources and services the Library has for their use. This has led to a number of new things including the hosting/publication of eJournals, discussions of a campus-wide open access resolution, the importance of sharing research via an open access venue, author rights, copyright and plagiarism, and much more.

In short, the IR provides the means for us to translate our expertise in information managment in a relevant manner to our targeted audience.

So Clay Shirky talked about crowdsourcing (which is essentially collaboration gone wild, in a good way) and your poster provided a model for collaboration. What were the components of this collaboration that made it worthwhile for all participants, inotherwords – how were you able to change the mindset from “free labor” to “pro social interaction”?


Both the e-science portal project and the UMMS/WPI project on developing a student data management curriculum involve collaborations among librarians from different universities. The collaborating content editors of the e-science portal had noted an urgent need for centralized information on e-science and introductory science subject content along with a platform for a virtual community where librarians could discuss e-science issues. They had attended the UMASS e-science symposium and New England science boot camp events that preceded the initiation of the portal. Because of their interest in e-science librarianship, they readily accepted the portal coordinator’s invitation to become content editors.

For the UMMS/WPI project, the Lamar Soutter Library at UMMS and the Gordon Library at WPI wanted to develop a curriculum aimed at ingraining sound data sharing and management concepts to a new generation of researchers by devising a set of interchangeable instructional modules on data management for undergraduate and graduate science and medical students. The faculty members involved in this project were well aware of the barriers to accessing and sharing data from their work experiences in labs and clinical settings. They agreed that the objectives of the data management curriculum were worth striving for and wanted to have input on the components of the curriculum.

Lastly, how are you the agents of change you would like to see happen or “gamechangers”?


As coordinator for my two projects, I set the stage for meetings,coordinate the work activities of project participants and facilitate communication among the participants. I like to think I set the ball in motion for the next steps of the project–this is where I see myself as a gamechanger.


Good question. I feel that Sally and I have been entrusted with a powerful technology tool for change: the institutional repository. We are change agents in the sense that we are helping our community at UMass Medical School do more to showcase their research and scholarship. We are pushing the boundaries of how faculty and researchers work with librarians. And we are passionate about doing that!

I’m sorry that this is so tardy!  As coordinator of the interlibrary loan service at my library, this was something that was really of interest to me.  I have to share some of the statistics from the meeting.  There are 100 fewer libraries than last year (what a sad commentary of the state of the economy and/or the value place on libraries and staffing).  There has been a 42% decline in requests since 2002, which was the highest point.  New England Journal of Medicine is the most widely held and most widely requested title.

We covered some of the features of version 4.5 which came out in August 2010.  One of the new features was the option to fill from physical format, which is mostly for epub ahead of print or if print and online versions are different.  We also heard about the contact library button on the status page that will allow users to send email to the contact listed.  Here we got a plea to please update our contact information!  Docline 4.6 will come out this summer and will cover Loansome Doc transfers, a new resubmit option, minor fixes, and internal issues.

The next point was absolutely critical for me and probably all Docline libraries!  The “national maximum” limit was removed with the new contract for the resource libraries.  So, while the RML maximum cost used to be limited to no more than $11, these libraries are now able to charge what they want.  You could almost see the shock about this.  There were several questions about this, its publicity, and the projected effects.  I know that I will be reconsidering some of the options on my routing tables when I return to the office.

We also heard information about the National Print Retention Initiative.  So far, 250 titles have been identified from the Abridged Index Medicus.  There will be 13 copies kept (one from each region plus NLM), and the period of commitment is 25 years.  Libraries would use Docline to record the commitment–there is an option for national commitment in the serials holding records.  There will be an NLM task force to make recommendations, and there will be a NLM/RML educational campaign.

The enhancements under consideration include OCLC to Docline bath uploads and importing ejournal licensing data into Docline.  Both of which are currently manual transfers and sounded cumbersome to me!

NLM wants to know about the needs of individual libraries and resource sharing in the network.  Libraries should anticipate a survey on this.  We were recommended to have an active relationship, as libraries, with the RML.

In the question and answer period, there were a few things that I learned that I should share.  Routing data does not look at max cost.  Also if an item is retired for cost it kills the request.  Both of these rules are predicated on libraries structuring their routing tables from free to low to medium to high costs.  We also found out that there is a do not route list that can be implemented.

One of the final questions and its answer, I think will be reassuring to all libraries.  The question, and I’m paraphrasing, was in light of that morning’s NLM update and the phasing out of NLM Gateway, what was the future of Docline?  We were assured that there is no talk of killing Docline!  I know that was a relief for me; I had not considered this, but it was a logical question.  Long live Docline!

Every year, the Pharmacy and Drug Information Section invites an expert to come and talk about a pharmacy-related topic.  This year, Dr. Rodney Carter, Associate Dean for Professional and External Relations from the UMN College of Pharmacy and current President of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy delivered the lecture.

Dr. Carter discussed some of the current changes and challenges affecting pharmacy education.  Many of the current challenges appear to stem from the 1990s when the number of prescriptions shot up while the number of pharmacists remained static, resulting in a huge demand for pharmacists and increased salaries.  As a result, between 1995 and 2011, the number of pharmacy schools increased from 72 to 120, the vast majority of which were small, private schools.  While this growth has resulted in supply being much closer to demand (and perhaps over demand in some places), it has increased competition for preceptors and made it harder to provide crucial experiential education.

Current pharmacy students are more interested in self-directed learning than those in previous generations.  They want streamed instruction, podcasts, and other media that they can review outside of class so that in-class time can be used for practice and exploration.  Dr. Carter also talked about the use of ChimeIn, a “clicker” style tool developed by UMN that also allows students to enter free-text, which allows students room for creativity and to recall an answer rather than just recognize it from a list.  For Dr. Carter, one of the big issues with providing out of class, online instruction is how to do it without violating copyright.  He noted that his liaison from the UMN Bio-Medical Library was very helpful in providing this and feels it is a good role for librarians.

Pharmacy practice itself has also been changing  While there are always new drugs coming on the market and new uses for existing drugs (resulting in a constant need for up to date information), pharmacists have also been creating new roles outside the traditional retail pharmacy we associate with them.  They are serving in stand-alone clinics, providing home-based services, providing immunizations, performing custom compounding, and helping patients manage increasingly large numbers of prescriptions.  New roles should also appear as part of the health care home and accountable care organizations called for by health care reform.  The needs of patients are also changing as more patients are interested in herbs and other complementary medicines whose efficacy and interactions may be unknown.

Dr. Carter thinks that librarians play an important role in helping pharmacists manage this change.  We can advise on how best to manage copyright concerns and deliver content at a distance.  We can assist with the continuing education needs of practicing pharmacists and ensure they have the right information for patient care.  As pharmacists’ contact with patients increases beyond dispensing a prescription, we can provide information on the best consumer health sources.

I want to thank Dr. Carter for his excellent lecture and encourage you to check out his slides and recording in the online meeting content.

If you diligently followed Michelle Kraft’s instructions on how to import the Online Program Planner calendar into your own personal Google calendar, shrieked when it told you about the 5am meetings you had in store, then realized you needed to change your Google time zone to Central from your home time zone, there is one more important step to do: Change Google back to home!


Good question – mine appears to automagically know after I reset my laptop time zone first because all I needed to do was go to Calendar then click Settings and this was waiting for me:

Just don’t look back at the re-screwed up 5am meeting times in the past or you’ll feel even more tired than you currently do. Trust me on this.

Elsevier sponsored a thought-provoking speaker, Marianne Legato, M.D., F.A.C.P. during its MLA luncheon on Tuesday. Dr. Legato is the author and editor of several books including Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine and Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan. The title of her presentation was “Does Gender Count in the Genomic Era?”

Dr. Legato began with a history of biomedical research indicating historically research involved men, assuming they were the normative of the human population. Scientists had a “bikini mentality” (i.e. women’s health only differed from men’s with regard to the breasts and the pelvis). Women also were less likely to volunteer for research out of concern over reproductive issues. Over the past 30 years, researchers have become aware of the extent and complexity of the genders through the study of gender-specific medicine.

Although some claim that genomic analysis of individuals and then personalized medicine based upon that analysis is the “Holy Grail,” Dr. Legato argues otherwise. She said in her presentation abstract, “In fact, such a concept is reductionism at its worst; the human phenotype is profoundly impacted not only by genes, but by hormones, developmental age and environmental experience.” In her presentation, Dr. Legato pointed skeptics feel genomics research is a “low-yield investment,” because biological determinism ignores social and environmental influences. It also has the potential to widen the gap between poor and rich (who will be able to afford gene manipulation) and reinforce stereotyping by missing the factors that contribute to disparities.

Tidbits I found of particular interest in Dr. Legato’s presentation to ponder later (and some that harken back to science fiction I have enjoyed) include:

- The only way to keep the human race alive will be cloning, and that will be possible by the end of this century.
- Males drive human evolution, because sperm are produced outside the body and far more vulnerable to outside exposures.
- Researchers have created living organisms from chemicals (synthetic biology reported in 2010) and the implications of this life being able to reproduce and evolve need to be considered.
- Gender has a direct impact on the X and Y chromosomes, and the gene expression is different in males and females down to the molecular level.
- The Y chromosome has a unique functionality dedicated to keeping males male; it repairs itself instead of exchanging material with other chromosomes.
- Discussion about the desirability of eliminating gender to improve the human genome is occurring.
- The Department of Defense is said to be conducting research aimed at creating stronger warriors that can control pain, stop bleeding from wounds naturally, etc.
- What are the implications of prolonging the human lifespan indefinitely? Expansion to other worlds to preserve life?
- George Church is considered “Doctor Genomic” and is concerned about the establishment of professional ethics with regard to genomics and mechanisms to monitor for transgressions of this ethics.
- It is paradoxical that although men have participated in more medical research, less has been studied as to why they are more vulnerable biologically. (Dr. Legato was asked to elaborate on this vulnerability and pointed out more male fetuses are conceived but more die during gestation so males account for half of all births, male adolescents die more frequently than females for a variety of reasons, heart disease strikes males earlier, and if males have heart disease by the age of 40, they are not likely to survive to the age of 65. More information is available in her latest book, Why Men Die First.)
- Transplanted hearts are less likely to survive if the donors were not of the same sex as the recipients.
- There is a need to research gender variants, including intersexuality; Dr. Legato feels there is underlying biology that needs to be fully understood.

My “to read list” after hearing this presentation includes:

The business meeting of the Educational Media and Technologies Section had the biggest turn out that I have ever seen in my time at MLA (this was my 4th MLA Annual Conference).  I don’t know if it was the idea of cookies and soda or that our incoming MLA President Jerry Perry had inspired interest with his iniative to create an MLA Academy of Teaching Excellence, but seeing people have to find additional chairs and get excited about the section made me very happy.  As of today, I am the past chair of EMTS, and so I chaired the meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

I’m tagging this entry as section programming because that is a major role of the Educational Media and Technologies Section. And, it’s one that I think is the backbone of the MLA conference.  The chair-elect of the section is tasked with developing ideas about programs that originate from surveying the section and brainstorming with the chair-elects of other sections in addition to the conveners of different SIGs. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also extremely rewarding.  You get to work closely with other MLA members for three years, and, in the process, create friendships and working relationships. You also get the satisfaction of seeing all your hard work come to life during the annual meeting.  Getting involved in a section is something that I have found to truly enrich my MLA membership, and I encourage everyone to find a section that will do the same for them.

The meeting was an action packed 1.5 hours where we congratulated and recognized our Annual Grant Recipients Dean Hendrix and Tiffany Tawzer. This grant was established to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting for one seasoned member and one new member of the section. We heard reports from the section board, laughed at the fact that I had a written agenda, but also a secret agenda that was only in my head and brainstormed ways that we could use our budget to best benefit our members.  We also shared information about an ongoing project called the “useful technologies wiki” that will serve to highlight things like anatomical software, audience response systems and much more.  The official minutes will be posted on the EMTS website if you’d like to learn more.

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