Monthly Archives: June 2010

Smart people

Today MPOW hosted another BICB Symposium.  BICB is our Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology program, and it is a collaborative effort with the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, IBM, and the Hormel Institute.

I was a history major in college.  I have no idea what these people are talking about most of the time.

This morning’s keynote was delivered by Dr. Jean-Pierre Kocher, who is the Chair of the Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics at the Mayo Clinic. His particular scientific interest (quoting from the program now…) “focuses on the development and application of computational methods to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms that underlie clinical disorders.” Phew.

Dr. Kocher (who has a charming French accent, by the way…) gave the keynote address entitled, “Bioinformatics and the future of medicine: an opportunity for the State of Minnesota?”

According to Dr. Kocher, medicine is moving from reactive to preventive, from generalized to personalized, from evidence-based to mechanism-based, and from syptomatic to holistic and integrative.  Additionally, we will see regenerative and robotized medicine. Genomics and bioinformatics will be critical.

Personalized medicine is defined as the right treatment for the right person at the right time.  Full genome sequencing is becoming increasingly affordable, and that will change how doctors treat patients.  He can envision patients being systomatically sequenced in the near future.

Bioinformatics is a multidisciplinary field, and we need to delevop and apply methods to mine and analyze biological data. The future of bioinformatics will be from patterns to mechanisms, from static to dynamic, and from statistical prediction to simulation.

The first step is data integration.  We need to integrate different genomics databases, include biological relationships, and combine public and in-house data.  Mayo, for instance, is developing the BORA system to do just that.

Integrative analysis is the mining of large datasets across study, across diseases, and across platform. Need to develop novel normalization methods, and explore biological and functional relationships within a systems context.

The contribution of bioinformatics to the future of medicine is increasingly important; bioinformatics will play a fundamental role in the transformation of medicine. Collaborations are needed to assemble multidisciplinary panels of analytical experts, interface with basics and clinical researchers, have access to the latest experiments and computational technologies, and to educate the next generation of bioinformatics experts.

The opportunities for Rochester and Minnesota are enormous to create new businesses and jobs in this area. What will it take to be the Health Corridor of Minnesota?  Comparing the region to Silicon Valley, they have domain expertise, institutional leadership, business incubators, early successes, and a source of investments. Southeast Minnesota has the same advantages.

Dr. Kocher believes that the future for the region is bright. Kiplinger’s agrees.

Turns out, hanging around with smart people is a very good thing.

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Filed under Me and mine, Techie stuff

The future of academic libraries

ALA has released a new report:

“Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025,” to prompt academic librarians to consider what trends may impact the future of higher education in order to take strategic action now.  Authored by David J. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching in the History Department of Ohio State University, and Kara J. Malenfant, ACRL scholarly communications and government relations specialist, the report presents 26 possible scenarios for the future which may have an impact on all types of academic libraries over the next 15 years. The scenarios are based on implications assessment of current trends and reflect a variety of potential futures for higher education. The scenarios represent a variety of themes relating to academic culture, demographics, distance education, funding, globalization, infrastructure/facilities, libraries, political climate, publishing industry, societal values, students/learning and technology.

Take a read.  Some interesting stuff in here.  Their methodology is interesting, too.  They’ve introduced the scenarios and have placed them on a graph that represents the probability that the scenario will occur, along with the scenario’s impact and the speed with which it’s unfolding.

There is definitely some food for thought in here.  While this is written for the academic audience, there are scenarios that may play out in other sectors, as well.

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Filed under Academia, Libraries and Librarianship

Food for thought…

Thought-provoking video about social media and its use. If your library isn’t doing something on social media, it really needs to start.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


DBF sent me a link to a story this morning, wondering whether I had read it.  I hadn’t.  Here’s the link – go ahead and read it.  I’ll wait.

As I told DBF, shame on that librarian!  That’s not at all how things should be done – and if she were working at my library, we would be having a talk about appropriate behavior at the desk.

Patron confidentiality means not only that you don’t tell other people what someone is reading, but that you don’t do what this woman is doing.  I would occasionally comment on a book that I had read that someone was checking out, (“I read that – you’re going to love it!”) but never would I comment on the kinds of books the writer is talking about.

If this is going on in your library, you are betraying the trust of your patrons.

If this is going on in your library, you have patrons that are upset/freaked out/insulted and are never coming back.

If this is going on in your library, it must stop now.

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Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship