Show Off Your Apps with the National Library of Medicine

Published Jun-11-12

NLM’s apps contest to help improve health and wellbeing through the power of data.

National Library of Medicine (NLM), United States

The Story:

Show Off Your Apps with the National Library of Medicine Apps contests have the potential to transform seemingly dry data sets that barely see the light of day into ingenious programs that can provide better public services, easier access to information, and even improve health.

Show Off Your Apps

In 2011, the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health hosted its first ever open innovation apps contest. The aim was to develop innovative software applications to further its mission of communicating biomedical information to aid scientific discovery, enhance clinical care and improve clinical health.

Launched to celebrate NLM’s 175th anniversary the “Show Off Your Apps” contest invited individuals, teams of individuals and organizations to use its vast database of biomedical information to create apps. Entrants could submit an existing app or create a new one.

The competition received a number of creative and innovative apps as participants seized the opportunity to create groundbreaking programs. The submission period was from April 12, 2011 – August 31 and judging took place during September.

Winners Selected

The winners were selected by a qualified panel chosen by NLM, and the judging criteria of apps submissions included their impact on potential users, usability, innovative design and platform neutrality (i.e. the app can operate on major web browsers, and mobile devices).

In all there were five winning apps and five honourable mentions and they were presented at an awards ceremony in Bethesda, Maryland on November 2nd, 2011. The winners demonstrated their apps at the event.

“By making our data available for others to use, we spark more innovation and give taxpayers a bigger dividend on their investment,” said Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the NLM.

The five winning ideas were:

GLAD4U – a search interface for locating and prioritizing specific gene information from the scientific literature. According to the developers it will enable researchers to find the answers to such questions as “which genes are related to breast cancer?”

iAnatomy – an electronic anatomy atlas for iPhone and iPod touch with interactive and zoomable images.

KNALIJ – an exploration engine that visualizes large sets of data. Based on the premise that a person’s own visual system is the best pattern recognition system, visual presentation of data allows researchers to better scan large amounts of data, and speed up discovery.

NLMplus – a semantic search engine and biomedical knowledge base capable of simultaneously searching 59 NLM databases.

Quertle – an innovative website for searching biomedical literature that uses advanced linguistic methods to find relevant documents instead of traditional keywords.

Intellectual Property

Although all participants retained the intellectual property of their ideas the winners had allow their concepts to be available for free use and download by the public for a set period of time on the NLM website.

Useful Apps

Whether you’re a student needing some clarification on topics, a clinician requiring point-of-care data and facts, a researcher wanting to interrogate a topic in more depth or an inquisitive member of the public, these new innovative apps offer a way to fill-in the information void.

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