Strategic Initiatives

Becker Library joins the Office of Health Information and Data Science

Representing an alignment of critical units across the School of Medicine that are integral to a modern healthcare system and top-tier academic health center, Becker Library joined the School of Medicine’s new Office of Health Information and Data Science at the beginning of FY21. With the library’s longstanding programs supporting informatics and data science this transition was a natural and welcome realignment.

Structure of the Office of Health Information and Data Science with Becker Library as one branch.

With its move to the Office of Health Information and Data Science (OHIDS) the library joined OHIDS in its ongoing strategic visioning effort. Five strategic priorities for Becker Library were identified for the upcoming year. Some of these grew from the library’s existing strategic plan, but others emerged from the new synergies enabled by being part of OHIDS. 

The five strategies were:

  1. Establish Becker Library as the digital information and services hub for the school of medicine.
  2. Create a research data repository and complementary services to ensure medical school compliance with the upcoming NIH data sharing policy.
  3. Leverage Research Profiles by integrating new features that enhance faculty profiles and adopt a governance structure to approve and prioritize changes to the platform.
  4. Create a Center for Health and Science Communication in Becker Library, building on its successful programs in this area.
  5. Integrate the Center for the History of Medicine into Becker Library alongside the Archives and Rare Books division and strengthen the partnership between campuses by co-developing programs in the history of medicine.
Becker's 5 strategic initiatives

Internal realignment

With the retirement of Becker Library Associate Director Bob Engeszer, the library took the opportunity to strategically realign internally by merging the Research, Publishing, and Communication and Data and Research Computing divisions to form the new Research Services Division under Associate Director Marcy Vana, PhD. Dr. Vana had previously served as head of the Data and Research Computing Division and has formed close partnerships with the Institute for Informatics, Washington University Information Technology, and University Libraries.

Health and science communication

During FY21, Becker Library developed a proposal to create a Center for Health and Science Communication to engage and train the school of medicine community in the fundamentals of science communication through workshops, training opportunities, and conversations with leaders in the field and to continue providing customized health communication services to the campus. 

The center’s primary goals are:

Skill-building—Providing opportunities for the WUSM community to practice and develop their health and science communication skills through workshops and trainings led by field experts.


Education & Awareness—Creating a community of understanding of best practices in health and science communication through activities such as #SciComm Seminars and providing additional opportunities through hosted events and presentations to expose the campus community to current trends and innovative approaches to communication. Serving as a clearinghouse of information through development and curation of online reference resources. 

Service—Providing health and science communication services so that the School of Medicine can better assist their audiences (patients, research participants and community members). These services include both consultations and materials review by center staff.

The center was officially approved in early FY22

Center for the History of Medicine

With the retirement of the Center for the History of Medicine’s director, there was an opportunity to align the center with Becker Library to continue its mission and better leverage its resources. During FY21, the Center for the History of Medicine moved organizationally into Becker Medical Library in close affiliation with Becker Library’s Archives and Rare Books Division (ARB). 

The new center will continue its original mission to enhance scholarship and learning for and by students and faculty but will more closely complement ARB’s existing activities and programs. As envisioned, the new center will act as a community-building entity to encourage, support, and facilitate multi-institutional events, programs, and exhibits focusing on the history of medicine. Through these activities the center will continue to address its original goals:

  1. To educate future generations of physicians, scientists, and scholars
  2. Offer a historical perspective on the evolution of clinical and basic science knowledge
  3. Highlight the School of Medicine’s important discoveries and innovations – and expand its programs to emphasize non-Western influences on medicine, how systemic racism has adversely impacted medicine, and historical illustrations of the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion on medical advances and patient care.