2012 Update on the National Centers for Biomedical Computing
The Principal Investigators weigh in
Ever since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began funding the National Centers for Biomedical Computing (NCBCs) just over seven years ago, these powerhouses have been plugging away, building the nation’s computational research infrastructure. Now a collection of articles about the Centers has been published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA). The anthology includes a commentary by Jeremy Berg, PhD, former director of the NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences, as well as eight center-specific papers written by the NCBC principal investigators and their teams highlighting their acheivements.
"While each of the centers focuses on different informatics aspects, they all share the goal of enabling collaborative ‘big science’ through the dissemination of innovative algorithms, tools, and services to the scientific community," notes Lucila Ohno-Machado, PhD, in her editorial introduction to this issue of JAMIA.
With three years remaining in the NCBC program, the question “what’s next?” is on many researchers’ minds. To that point, Berg’s commentary concludes: “Even in the present challenging fiscal climate, the biomedical community and the NIH need to consider the potential impact of targeted investments in biomedical computing, including a continuation and perhaps an expansion of a national network of biomedical computing centers, perhaps after a more systematic analysis examining the effectiveness of this approach for achieving these goals.” A review of the centers' JAMIA articles is perhaps a first step in that process.
For background on the NCBC program, the reader is directed to Biomedical Computation Review stories about the centers funded in both the first wave (2004) and the second wave (2005). BCR also published an update of NCBC progress in the Winter 2008/2009 issue.
Here are links to the March 2012 JAMIA stories for each National Center:
- National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics (NCIBI)
- Multiscale Analysis of Genomic and Cellular Networks (MAGNet)
- The National Alliance for Medical Image Computing (NAMIC)
- Informatics for integrating biology and the bedside (i2b2)
- Simbios: an NIH national center for physics-based simulation of biological structures
- The National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO)
- iDASH: integrating data for analysis, anonymization, and sharing
- The Center for Computational Biology (CCB)