Modern electronic communication systems have provided a wealth of opportunities for rapid, low-cost information transfer. We at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have welcomed these innovations and actively sought ways to use them to communicate with our constituents in the scientific and lay communities. In this column, we highlight some of the modern, as well as the more traditional, approaches used by the Institute to disseminate its messages.
The NHLBI Gopher has been up and running for more than a year, and we are continually updating and expanding it. The Gopher is available 24 hours a day free of charge. Its address is gopher://gopher.nhlbi.nih.gov; it can also be accessed through the NHLBI World Wide Web Home Page at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Both the casual “browser” and the serious information seeker may find much of interest on the Gopher, as a brief overview of its menu indicates. Our organizational structure and the addresses and telephone numbers of key staff are provided under NHLBI Organization and Staff; e-mail addresses can be found in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Directory Service available on the NIH Gopher. The NHLBI Personnel Announcements menu item identifies NHLBI position vacancies that may be of particular interest to the community and directs users to consult the NIH Gopher for additional job listings. Membership rosters for NHLBI advisory and review groups are listed under Advisory Committees and Boards.
The menu item News from the NHLBI covers a number of timely topics for scientists and healthcare providers. For example, the “NHLBI Statement on Calcium Channel Blockers” and our recent press release and clinical alert about “Bypass Over Angioplasty in Patients With Diabetes” can be found there. Letters and journal articles from the Institute Director highlight a variety of scientific, administrative, and programmatic issues. Special resources available to the research community, such as the new NHLBI Mammalian Genotyping Service, are also featured in this section.
Under Documents, we provide scientific reports from Institute-sponsored task forces, expert panels, working groups, workshops, and special emphasis panels. These documents give up-to-date information about the state of the science and research opportunities that have been recommended by the Institute’s advisers. This part of the Gopher also identifies current NHLBI-solicited programs (ie, Requests for Applications, Requests for Proposals, and Program Announcements) and provides background information about activities such as the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
The largest Gopher menu item, Education Programs and Activities, comprises a wealth of information about the Institute’s prevention and education programs. Publications geared to health professionals, patients, and the general public are available on such topics as high blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, rapid response to heart attack symptoms, obesity, smoking, and blood resources. Since none of these publications are copyrighted, users are encouraged to download and print them, thus obtaining rapid access to materials at minimal cost to themselves or the Institute. Many other NHLBI publications are described in the NHLBI Educational Materials Catalogue (accessible through submenus NHLBI Crosscutting Education Program Activities/Publications for the General Public), which also gives instructions for ordering them.
Although this discussion has focused on the NHLBI Gopher, let me mention two other sources of information that should not be overlooked. The NHLBI Information Center is available Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern time, to accept orders for publications and inquiries about diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders. For the patient with a puzzling health problem, the health official who wants to set up a community screening program, or the student who needs information for a term paper—the Information Center has the answers. It can be reached by telephone (301-251-1222), fax (301-251-1223), mail (PO Box 30105, Bethesda, MD 20824-0105), or Internet (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Institute also has established a toll-free information line, 1-800-575-WELL, that provides recorded information about prevention and treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol. Callers can listen to messages, in English or Spanish, about the importance of these risk factors and ways to prevent and treat them. They may also leave a name and address to have printed materials mailed to them.
We are delighted that the modern world of communications provides so many avenues for the Institute to reach the community it serves. We welcome comments and suggestions about ways in which we can enhance NHLBI information services.
- Copyright © 1995 by American Heart Association