Posts tagged: research data

Harvard AIDS Initiative Collaborates on Lab Notebook Guidance

By , October 28, 2016
An image from HAI's blog post: Dr. Max Essex’s lab notebooks from 1969 show his groundbreaking work on the mechanism of transmission of feline leukemia. These and Essex’s other early papers are archived at the Center for the History of Medicine. Text by Martha Henry, photos by Lucia Ricci.

Dr. Max Essex’s lab notebooks from 1969 show his groundbreaking work on the mechanism of transmission of feline leukemia. Text by Martha Henry, photos by Lucia Ricci.

The Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School recently published a blog post on lab notebooks to help inform researchers within their program. Martha Henry, Director of Communications at HAI, reached out to collaborate with Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard Chan School, and Jessica Murphy, Reference Archivist, to draft this post. The final product includes images of lab notebooks from the recently processed Myron Essex Papers 1949-1996 (inclusive) 1965-1996 (bulk), taken by Lucia Ricci, Graphic/Web Designer at the Harvard Chan School, during her visit to the Holmes Reading Room at the Center for the History of Medicine. It also includes links to guidance on research retention, and general information about research collections at the Center for the History of Medicine.


The Center for the History of Medicine at Countway Library, which includes the archives of the Harvard Chan School, often collects lab notebooks, research data, and supporting documentation (in both paper as well as electronic form) as a part of the historical record of departments and faculty. Records are appraised for their informational value based on a number of criteria, then are preserved and made accessible to a global research community. To learn more, or to request a consultation, please contact Heather Mumford at





Processing of the Harold Amos Papers Underway

By , April 15, 2016

In 1952, Harold Amos was the first African American doctoral graduate of the Division of Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. He went on to become the first African American Department Chair at Harvard Medical School, serving as the Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from 1968-1971 and again from 1975-1978. His research focused on nutrition and animal cells, including the use of bacterial RNA to program higher cell protein synthesis, enzyme inductions, insulin, serum, temperature effects, ribosomes, phosphoproteins, RNA metabolism, as well as glucose starvation and glycerol and hexose metabolism. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Harold Amos papers, a product of his professional activities, research, and career as a Professor at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Harold Amos was born 7 September 1918 in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and completed his undergraduate studies at Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, graduating summa cum laude in 1941 with a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry. Amos was a graduate assistant in the Biology Department, Springfield College, until he was drafted into the Quartermaster Corps of the United States Army (1942). He served during World War II as a warrant officer in a battalion that supplied gasoline to troops; he spent two years in England before serving in France and former Czechoslovakia until his discharge (1946). Amos enrolled in the Biological Sciences’ graduate program in the Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, in 1946, and completed his Master’s degree in 1947. He became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from the Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, in 1952. Amos received a Fulbright fellowship and worked in the laboratory of Georges Cohen at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, working with the threonine mutants of Escherichia coli (1951-1952). Amos then returned to Harvard Medical School in 1954 as an Instructor, Department of Bacteriology and Immunology. He advanced to the position of full Professor in 1969. He was the first African American to head a department at Harvard Medical School when he became the Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, a role he held from 1968-1971 and again from 1975-1978. He also served as the Chair, Division of Medical Sciences, two times (1971-1975, 1978-1988). In 1975, he became the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and held this role until he became a Professor Emeritus in 1988. After his retirement, he became an active member of the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and continued to work in the laboratory of Jack Murphy at Boston University up until his death.

Much of Amos’s research focuses on animal cells, though his initial focus was on Escherichia coli and its phages, including the 1958 finding of 5-methylcytosine in Escherichia coli, which was only confirmed decades later. During his time at Harvard Medical School, Amos studied the use of bacterial RNA to program higher cell protein synthesis, enzyme inductions, insulin, serum, temperature effects, ribosomes, phosphoproteins, RNA metabolism, as well as glucose starvation and glycerol and hexose metabolism.

The papers, created throughout Amos’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include correspondence, research data and notes, teaching records, and materials relating to the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2016.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Harold Amos papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960, the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988, and the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996. Already, the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk), have been opened as part of the project. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

“Big Data” Stewardship

By , September 29, 2015

BigData_2267x1146_whiteOn Tuesday, September 8th, 2015, Heather Mumford, Archivist for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, attended the webinar, The Data Flood: Implications for data stewardship and the culture of discovery. The discussion was led by Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, and Dean, School of Marine Sciences, University of California San Diego. Although Dr. Leinen’s background is in geoscience, the merit of her key talking points– using data with intelligence and interoperability—crosses disciplines.


Storage and Management

Managing big data is important because observation is the first step towards understanding. We need to address how we are managing big data because, well, it’s big–and only getting bigger! According to the ACI Information Group, five exabytes of content were created between the birth of the world and 2003, and since then five exabytes have been created on a daily basis. Data growth is poised to exceed Moore’s Law growth (average growth = 64%). This means our ability to store and explore data is challenged; automatically “archiving” data on external storage should no longer been seen as an adequate solution to such rapid exponential growth. One way to control growth is through appraisal. Researchers need assistance with understanding what should be kept and for how long.


It was particularly interesting to hear Dr. Leinin’s perspective on who should be responsible for stewarding big data. Many universities are struggling or unable to manage large data collections. Archives, which typically fall into a data stewardship role, are often under-funded and under-staffed–and at a time when data is growing in size and researchers’ expectation of services provided is expanding. Government data archives are already having difficulties in accommodating innovation in systems and structures, morphing to new technology, etc. In her presentation, Dr. Leinin made a call for a change in culture.


Publishing Data

Brooks Hanson, American Geophysical Union Director of Publications, was paraphrased as stating that publications are going to become more interactive for readers, and data will become an interoperable and seamless part of the publication. If a researcher publishes, he or she must be able to offer that data to the community. The data should also be open so that it can be replicated, and future progress can be made from this same set of data. Social media (bookmarking, tagging, etc.) is not a complete solution for sharing data, as not all social media is interoperable or open source. How do we have discussions about data in a way that makes it interoperable and accessible to others?


Data Management Education

It is generally understood that the “next generation” is poised to be more fluent with social media tools, but are we also simultaneously educating them in data? Big data management is still in its earliest stages, so it will be interesting to see how data management education will be tackled by the scholarly community. There is certainly an opportunity for data science to emerge as an exciting new undergraduate major, master’s degree, and certificate program (for professionals already in the field).  State and federal agencies are already pursuing certificate programs for current employees who have found themselves working with large data sets.


This webinar was presented by DataOne. In addition to archived webinars, additional lessons and tutorials are available online for use/distribution. Please visit for more information.

Countway and University of Alberta team up to bring hidden medical data to light

By , February 2, 2015

We’re excited about our upcoming joint project with the University of Alberta funded by a grant of $367,600 from the Mellon Foundation via the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections Program. Our project will open hidden collections of research data while developing a more comprehensive data lifecycle management approach to enable long term preservation and access. Together, we will be describing 39 studies comprising 390 electronic files and 135 cubic feet of paper-based records and data related to maternal, infant, and child research.

The University of Alberta recently published this interesting article on the joint project.

Center Receives CLIR Grant to Open Maternal, Infant, and Child Research

By , December 5, 2014

Teal Shell LogoWith TextThe Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $367,602 in grant funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for its proposal Bridging the Research Data Divide: Rethinking long-term value and access for historical and contemporary maternal, infant, and child research. Grant funding will enable the Center to collaborate with the University of Alberta Libraries (UAL) to create rich metadata for discovery, access, citation, and long-term preservation of maternal, infant, child, and youth health (MCH) research data. The Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by CLIR.

The project aims to help close a significant gap in current instructional and operational approaches to the long-term preservation of research data. Such approaches generally stop at the deposit of research data into a repository for short term retention. This type of approach does not take into consideration: 1) the long-term historical value of research data; 2) interdisciplinary research; 3) how to describe research data for discoverability; 4) the need to identify and describe contextualizing manuscript collections that support the interpretation and reuse of data; 5) the need to describe data and records in advance of transferring the data to institutional repositories and special collections environments; and 6) how to make researchers aware of the existence of research data useful to their arenas of inquiry, even when collections contain protected information, such as HIPAA identifiers.UALogo

To build improved practices, the Center will process and expose Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School faculty research data and related records for the Boston site of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (1930-1987, Jane Gardner, Harold C. Stuart, and Isabelle Valadian, principal investigators) that led to the growth charts used by pediatricians today; early intervention studies deriving from the multisite Infant Health and Development Program led by Marie McCormick between 1985 and 2014; and the Social Transition and Risk for Disordered Eating in Fiji study conducted by Anne E. Becker (2004-2010), which identified the impact of social media exposure on health and body image.

UAL will focus on 36 studies drawn from pediatric clinical trials (two active: Ketorolac and Metoclopramide, 2012-2014; Probiotic/Lacidofil, 2013-2017) and maternal and infant cohort studies conducted by UA-affiliated or supported Maternal Infant Child and Youth Research Network (MICYRN) researchers. MICYRN, a federal nonprofit society, links 19 academic health centers in Canada and over 20 affiliated practice-based research networks.

In all, the Center and UAL will describe 39 studies comprised of 390 electronic files and 135 cubic feet of analog records. Kathryn Hammond Baker, Deputy Director of  the Center, Sharon Farnel, Metadata & Cataloguing Librarian, UAL, and Kendall Roark, Data Curation Consultant, UAL, will serve as the project’s principal investigators. Emily R. Novak Gustainis, the Center’s Head of Collections Services, will serve as managing archivist.

This is the Center’s third Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant award, and one of only nineteen projects funded by CLIR as part of the program’s final round of awards. Previous initiatives include Foundations of Public Health Policy (2008) and Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections (2012).

Countway Archivists Author Research Data Management Curriculum

By , June 10, 2014


Emily R. Novak Gustainis and Darla White  are members of New England Collaborative Research Data Curriculum (NECDMC) project, led by the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in partnership with several libraries in the New England region. The two Center for the History of Medicine staff members have recently authored two sections of Module 7: Repositories, Archiving and Data Preservation. Each of the curriculum’s seven online instructional modules aligns with the National Science Foundation’s data management plan recommendations and addresses universal data management challenges, while including a collection of actual research cases which provide discipline specific context to the content of the instructional modules.

Part B: Retention, Records Management, Archiving and Preservation, authored by White, and Part C: Long-Term Data Management, authored by Gustainis, were generated with staff from  the University of Connecticut (Part A: Repositories) and Brown University (Introduction), and focus on the long term stewardship and archiving of research data and supporting documentation. Module 7 is the final component of a comprehensive research data management curriculum for researchers, data curators and managers, librarians, and archivists hosted by the Lamar Soutter Library. The seven modules can be taught as a unit, or individually, and are already being used by several educational institutions nation-wide. Built upon the Frameworks of a Data Management Curriculum developed by the Lamar Soutter Library and the George C. Gordon Library at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the NECDMC is designed to address present and future researchers’ data management learning needs. The curriculum is freely available at:


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