What are medical libraries expected to do?

This is not an abstract question about the future of libraries, although that is also an interesting question. It is a question about what the medical school accrediting organizations have determined. "The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The LCME is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association." and this is what they had to say (the bold face is mine for emphasis):

D. Information Resources and Library Services
ER-11 The medical school must have access to well-maintained library and information facilities,
sufficient in size, breadth of holdings, and information technology to support its education and
other missions.

There should be physical or electronic access to leading biomedical, clinical, and
other relevant periodicals, the current numbers of which should be readily
available. The library and other learning resource centers must be equipped to
allow students to access information electronically, as well as to use self-instructional

ER-12 The library and information services staff must be responsive to the needs of the faculty, residents
and students of the medical school.

A professional staff should supervise the library and information services, and
provide training in information management skills. The library and information
services staff should be familiar with current regional and national information
resources and data systems, and with contemporary information technology.
[Revised annotation approved by the LCME in October 2007 and effective immediately.]
Both school officials and library/information services staff should facilitate access
of faculty, residents, and medical students to information resources, addressing
their needs for information during extended hours and at dispersed sites.
(This is taken from:
http://www.lcme.org/functions2008jun.pdf found at:http://www.lcme.org/standard.htm
Hat tip David Osterbur.)

These are important recommendations and ones which foreshadow trends from the very near future. We have embraced this educational mission from access of electronic resources to teaching biomedical researchers how to perform bioinformatics-enabled research (see the bioinformatics nanocourses offered to all by Reddy Galli— details here ). The central question is whether librarian training will embrace the information technology that will be required to keep libraries current and relevant to their patrons. The answer to that question will determine where the future librarians are trained and that will in turn determine how central libraries remain to the academic mission.

The alien within and other tales of curatorial genetic mishap

As reported by the New Scientist.

Another quality improvement challenge for the genomically-knowledgeable librarian.


Different cell, different story

A Swiss-American collaboration makes vivid just how specific the effect of cellular/tissue context is upon the impact of genetic variation. We have understood for several years that each tissue has a different (if highly overlapping) mix of expressed genes (mRNA). However this study shows, in a study of three different cell types in 75 individuals, that the variation in expression between individuals that is attributable to genetic variation in control elements (i.e. regulatory SNP's) is highly tissue dependent. That is, over half of the regulatory variants only have impact in particular tissues. This suggests that understanding the impact of human genetic variation will take a lot more detailed study and not only in one tissue (usually blood).

[Dimas, A.S., Deutsch, S., Stranger, B.E., Montgomery, S.B., Borel, C., Attar-Cohen, H., Ingle, C., Beazley, C., Arcelus, M.G., Sekowska, M., Gagnebin, M., Nisbett, J., Deloukas, P., Dermitzakis, E.T. and Antonarakis, S.E. (2009) Common Regulatory Variation Impacts Gene Expression in a Cell Type-Dependent Manner, Science.]