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James Ostell named National Center for Biotechnology Information director

Thursday, September 14, 2017

National Library of Medicine (NLM) Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, R.N., Ph.D., has appointed James M. Ostell, Ph.D., as the director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of NLM at the NIH. Dr. Ostell has been with NCBI since it was established by Congress in 1988, and has helped shape it into one of the most widely used biomedical resources in the world. 

NCBI supports and maintains a series of biomedical databases, including PubMed, GenBank, BLAST, Entrez, RefSeq, dbSNP, PubMed Central and dbGaP. It also provides researchers with access to analysis and computing tools to better understand genes and their role in health and disease.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Ostell as director of NCBI,” said Dr. Brennan. “He brings a wealth of insight and experience, as well as vision, creativity, and a deep commitment to public service. He holds the respect of the entire NCBI workforce, and has shepherded NCBI into a model organization that embraces discovery and excellence in technical development. His appointment will ensure the continued preeminence of NCBI and maintain its outstanding record of achievement.”

Prior to his appointment as NCBI Director, Dr. Ostell served as chief of the NCBI Information Engineering Branch. In that role, he was responsible for designing, developing, building and deploying production resources at NCBI.

In 2007, Dr. Ostell was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine). In 2011, he was named an NIH Distinguished Investigator, an honor reserved for NIH’s most distinguished senior investigators at the highest level of career accomplishment.

Dr. Ostell earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before joining NCBI, he developed commercial molecular biology software.

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