Director’s Reflections…HSLS Update Celebrates 20 Years of Publication

Barbara Epstein
HSLS Director

This issue marks the 20th anniversary of the Update.  In late 1996, we cautiously embarked on publishing a printed newsletter that would appear quarterly.  We wondered if we would have enough news to share every quarter that could fill four pages of print.  Our goal was to provide our Pitt and UPMC health sciences community with useful information about library resources and services to support your daily teaching, publishing, research and clinical responsibilities (with just a little bit of bragging to showcase the achievements of our talented library staff).  A secondary goal was to record the history of the library as it happened.

Our very first Fall 1996 issue included articles about our new home page on the “World Wide Web”, growth of Falk Library’s “Microcomputer and Media Center,” Continue reading

Holiday PalPITTations Concert

PalPittationsPlease join us as we celebrate the season with the annual PalPITTations Concert on Wednesday, December 14, at 12:30 p.m., on the upper floor of Falk Library. The PalPITTations are the a capella vocal group of health sciences students from the University of Pittsburgh. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome for this free concert.

Online Films, Videos, Documentaries, and Lectures in the History of Medicine

Sound recordings, documentaries, films, and lectures tell the story of biomedicine, disease, and public health. This capture of the historical record enables us to reflect on the progress made in health care and appreciate the advancements yet to come. Below is a selection of online history of medicine films and sounds.

Digital Collections, a part of the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Historical Audiovisuals (HAV) Program, contain 200+ films and sound clips, and includes:

NLM’s History of Medicine’s newsletter, Circulating Now, includes articles about films and videos that offer overviews and commentaries about items in HAV’s digital collection.

The Medical Heritage Library, a collaboration of leading medical libraries, provides open access to historical resources. The collection includes tens of thousands of rare medical books, pamphlets, journals, and films from the past six centuries. Online films and sound clips can be located using the Medical Heritage Library Search feature or through the Internet Archive.

The Wellcome Library’s Film and Sound website makes available 600 digitized online films and sound recordings from their Moving Image and Sound Collection. Sound highlights include Florence Nightingale speaking at the end of the 19th century, and Sir Alexander Fleming discussing the discovery of penicillin in 1945. Films include the first test tube baby and Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike. There is a YouTube channel with playlists and a SoundCloud site.

PBS’s American Experience online documentaries include The Forgotten Plague: Tuberculosis in AmericaInfluenza 1918; and The Poisoner’s Handbook, which claims that “…the average American medicine cabinet was a poisoner’s treasure chest.”

HSLS’ History of Medicine collections include recordings of past C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society Lectures. The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society is one of the largest regional history of medicine societies in the United States and sponsors at least five lectures every year.

~Charles B. Wessel

Resources to Help You Learn and Use R

R is a programming language and software environment used for data analysis and/or visualizations. Below are several resources available to help you learn how to use R with your data.

Online training through (for Pitt users only)

The University provides access to online training via, which includes thousands of videos on topics such as Web design, video editing, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and more, including R.

To access this resource, visit the My Pitt portal page or the login link on the CSSD page. Use the search box to locate courses or browse the learning paths.  Continue reading

Contribute Your Ideas for NLM’s Future Directions

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is embarking on a new strategic planning initiative and invites input from its stakeholder community. As the world’s largest biomedical library and the producer of PubMed, Clinical, PubMed Central, GenBank, MedlinePlus, and hundreds of other databases and initiatives, NLM is an indispensable resource for researchers and clinicians at Pitt and throughout the world.

The planning process is organized around four main themes:

  1. The role of NLM in advancing data science, open science, and biomedical informatics.
  2. The role of NLM in advancing biomedical discovery and translational science.
  3. The role of NLM in supporting the public’s health: clinical systems, public health systems and services, and personal health.
  4. The role of NLM in building collections to support discovery and health in the 21st century.

Within these planning themes, you are invited to comment on the following areas:

  1. Identify what you consider an audacious goal in your area of interest—a challenge that may be daunting but would represent a huge leap forward were it to be achieved.  Include input on the barriers to and benefits of achieving the goal.
  2. The most important thing NLM does in this area, from your perspective.
  3. Research areas that are most critical for NLM to conduct or support.
  4. Healthcare systems and public health arenas in which NLM participation is most critical.
  5. New data types or data collections anticipated over the next 10 years.
  6. Other comments, suggestions, or considerations, keeping in mind that the aim is to build the NLM of the future.

This is an important opportunity to help shape the next future directions of NLM. For instructions on how to submit a response, go to the website. Responses are due by January 9, 2017.

Enjoy a Good Book over the Holidays!

open-book-on-tableAs you head out for the holidays, grab a Leisure Reading book from HSLS’s collection of newly-published fiction and nonfiction. The Leisure Reading Collection is located at the rear of the main floor of Falk Library in the comfortable seating area.

Continue reading

Falk Library Holiday and Winter Recess Hours

Over Pitt’s winter break, Falk Library will have modified hours:snowflake

  • Saturday, December 17: 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 18: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Monday, December 19: 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 20: 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 21: 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 22: 7 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Friday, December 23, through Monday, January 2: CLOSED
  • Tuesday, January 3: 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 4: Resume regular hours

The Ask a Librarian e-mail service will be monitored over the break. Continue reading

United in Illness: Gómez Miedes’ Enquiridion

img_0091Bernardino Gómez Miedes (1520-1589) was a Spanish humanist well-versed in many disciplines. He authored two important books: Commentarii de sale (1572), the earliest discussion of salt, and Enchiridion (1589), a manual about gout. An edition of the latter, published again in Madrid in 1731, caught the eye of Dr. Gerald Rodnan.  Dr. Rodnan was an avid book collector, professor of medicine, and the former division chief of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Pittsburgh, who donated his impressive collection of rheumatology books to the Falk Library.

The 1731 edition of Enquiridion is bound in limp vellum, which was the traditional and common choice of binders in the 18th century. The white leather of the cover is not decorated and has only a handwritten spine title, Manual de salud (Health Handbook). The strips of leather supporting the spine and forming the closing ties are visible though no longer functional.  Typical for the period was also the use of pages from other, usually older, books. However, the binder of our library copy took a different approach by including as end papers pages 245-246 of a contemporary Spanish medical tract, Restauracion de la medicina antigua, sobre sus mayores remedios, by Francisco Suárez de Rivera, also published in 1731.

Enquiridion was originally published in 1589. It was written in Spanish, therefore destined for a wider domestic audience than a manual written in Latin. It was dedicated to Phillip II with the intention to advise the king, who like Gómez Miedes suffered from gout, on ways to deal with pain caused by the disease. The author was not a physician, but his book shows his erudition, proves his knowledge of ancient authors like Galen, and stresses the importance of clinical observation. He introduces massage as a healing technique. Gomez Miedes’ advice on dealing with pain in illness would have been especially convincing to his contemporaries, as it came from a fellow sufferer of gout.


~Gosia Fort

HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Author names in bold are HSLS-affiliated

Carrie Iwema, Information Specialist in Molecular Biology, John LaDue, Head of Knowledge Integration, Angie Zack, Web and Application Programmer, and Ansuman Chattopadhyay, Head of Molecular Biology Information Service, published “Discovery Tool for Life Sciences Research Article Preprints” in JMLA, 104(4): 354-62, October, 2016.

D. Kavalieratos, J. Corbelli, D. Zhang, J.N. Dionne-Odom, Z.P. Hoydich, J.Z. Hanmer, D. Ikejiani, M. Klein-Fedyshin, Research and Clinical Instruction Librarian, et al., published “Association Between Palliative Care and Patient and Caregiver Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” in JAMA, 316(20): 2104-2114, 2016.


Presenter name in bold is HSLS-affiliated

Michele Klein Fedyshin, Research and Clinical Instruction Librarian, presented “Research Done Right” at the 25th Annual International Transplant Nurses Society Symposium, in Pittsburgh, PA, on October 14, 2016.

Classes for December 2016

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Prezi, bibliographic management, and molecular biology and genetics. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff, and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, who will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows, who will need to show their UPMC IDs. Continue reading

Exploring Epigenomics

Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute

Epigenomics is the study of the functions and locations of chemical compounds and proteins that modify the genome by influencing gene expression and regulation. DNA methylation and histone modification are examples of these heritable modifications, which are natural processes involved in tissue differentiation and development and can be affected by environmental and lifestyle factors. Thanks to previous research and the ENCODE Project, the technological advances in next generation sequencing have catalyzed data output and created new possibilities for disease treatment. Here we present a few resources to assist researchers with exploring the field of epigenomics. Continue reading

Bringing Rigor and Reproducibility to Research Symposium Wrap-Up

r3logo On September 22, the Health Sciences Library System and Department of Biomedical Informatics hosted the symposium “Bringing Rigor and Reproducibility to Research.” Over 100 people attended to hear the featured speaker, Victoria Stodden, speak about facilitating reproducibility of computational results. She was followed by a panel discussion from Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, PhD, RN, FAAN, Charles Horn, PhD, Janette Lamb, PhD, and Jeremy P. Somers, PhD. After lunch, HSLS librarians provided a “spotlight” session on library and University resources that would help researchers bring rigor and reproducibility to their own research.

An evaluation distributed to attendees after the symposium suggested the information presented at the symposium would make a difference in how they did their research. When asked, in the next six months how likely are you to use information obtained from the symposium, 91% responded positively. Approximately 35% of those answering found the overview of library resources the most helpful.

Specific comments included:

“I am now more aware of the level of detail needed to provide a truly “reproducible” and transparent research.”

“I got a broad view of the subject that widened my perspective.”

“Really liked the panel and the HSLS presentations as they had helpful suggestions.”

If you missed the symposium, you can view Victoria Stodden’s presentation and the slides from the spotlight session at the symposium’s website.

~Nancy Tannery

The Potential of Clinical Trial Data Sharing: the SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge

The New England Journal of Medicine is hosting a challenge to explore the potential of clinical trial data sharing. Individuals and groups are invited to participate in the SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge by analyzing the dataset underlying the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) Research Group’s article and identifying novel scientific or clinical findings that advance medical science.

A Randomized Trial of Intensive versus Standard Blood-Pressure Control,” SPRINT Research Group, New England Journal of Medicine, 373(22): 2103-16, November 26, 2015.

The SPRINT Challenge will have two rounds: a Qualifying Round and a Challenge Round. Participants must complete the Qualifying Round to become eligible to enter the Challenge Round. Details on how to enter, when the data will be released, and information regarding IRB approval and data use agreement requirements, are available at the “How To Enter” website.

Judges will be a group of experts and leaders in clinical research, data analysis and statistics, patient advocacy, and others. After the Challenge Round closes, all submissions will be open to the public for crowdvoting. For more information on the judging and awards, see the FAQs.

Designing Posters with PowerPoint

Designing a poster may seem like a task best suited for a graphic designer, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult! One way to ease the process is to use a program you are already familiar with, such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

slide-size-boxPowerPoint slides can be scaled up to 56 inches in both width and height. In PowerPoint 2013-2016, under the Design tab, click on the Slide Size button and choose Custom Slide Size to set your height and width. If you want a to create a larger poster, such as 3.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide, scale down your dimensions to 28 by 40 inches, and when you have your poster printed, ask for it to be enlarged by 150%.

A well designed poster has good balance between graphics, text, and blank space. Blank space includes margins and the areas between your content. With ample blank space, your poster will look uncluttered, and your audience can better distinguish the order and separation of your poster content.

format-shape-paneYour margins are set by the size and placement of your content areas, which can be found in the Format Shape pane. Right-click on any shape to pull up the Format Shape pane, and select the Size and Properties tab. Use the precise sizing and position options to accurately place your content in a layout. Objects can also be aligned or distributed equally through the Drawing Tools tab.

Graphics help to draw interest to your poster, and charts and figures can show complex information that can be understood quickly. If you don’t have a lot of information for charts and figures, you can still add graphical elements to your poster. From the Insert tab, select SmartArt. Choose from a gallery of diagrams, including List, Process, Cycle, Hierarchy, Relationship, Matrix, and Pyramid. Adding text to these diagrams allows you to convey your research content with added design.


HSLS offers a hands-on workshop, PowerPoint for Conference Posters, which expands your PowerPoint skills for designing posters. For assistance on poster design, contact Julia Dahm, Technology Services Librarian.

~ Julia Dahm