10 Questions: Cynthia Sheffield: STARTING A LIBRARY FROM SCRATCH WAS JUST A PRELU DE TO CYNTHIA SHEFFIELD'S LATEST CHALLENGE--HELPING RESEARCHERS FIND A CURE FOR ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

By Hales, Stuart | Information Outlook, January-February 2018 | Go to article overview

10 Questions: Cynthia Sheffield: STARTING A LIBRARY FROM SCRATCH WAS JUST A PRELU DE TO CYNTHIA SHEFFIELD'S LATEST CHALLENGE--HELPING RESEARCHERS FIND A CURE FOR ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE


Hales, Stuart, Information Outlook


Many librarians developed their "itch" by visiting libraries or bookstores as children, browsing the stacks and pernaps ever plopping themselves down on the flow to flip through the books they'd pulled off the shelves. That's how Cynthia Sheffield got interested in librarianship--but she was an adult, working toward a graduate degree in business.

"While I was working on my final paper for my MBA, I paid a babysitter to watch my two small children at home on a beautiful Saturday so I could go to the Johns Hopkins Library on the Homewood campus to do research," she says. "Hopkins doesn't have a library science program, but they have a huge collection of library science books. I found myself sitting on the floor in the stacks surrounded by about 30 books I had pulled from the shelves, by people like Carol Tenopir and all sorts, of well-known library authors, I had been there for about 90 minutes when I realised ! had taken this Alice in Wonderland-type dive into a rabbit hole, where I was fascinated and energized by what I was learning--instead of working on my final paper."

Early jobs at medical libraries at Johns Hopkins Jed to a career in health sciences librarianship including her current position managing an Alzheimer's database at the National Institute on Aging. Along the way, she joined SLA and honed her leadership skills with the Maryland Chapter and the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division,

Information Outtook spoke with Cynthia shartly after she returned from attending the SLA Leadership Symposium in New Orleans.

You've had a Iong and interesting career in librarianship, but before we delve into that, let's taIk about your current position. For the past three years, you've been managing an Alzheimer's database with the National institutes df Health. You seem very passionate about this project. Why is that?

The Alzheimer's Preclinical Efficacy Database, or AlzPED, brings together aspects of librarianship that drew me to the field: evidence-based medicine and text mining. It lets me work with great scientists who support several protects bed to finding cures for Alzheimer's. I also get to work with great librarians who offer collegial solutions as I encounter various challenges. And some of my passion cames from having had personal experiences with Alzheimers disease.

I work directly with program directors at the National Institutes on Aging. I know how hard they work to identify the right projects and ensure rigor is used to develop and report on AD research. The/re taking a comprehensive approach to overcoming barriers to progress that have been seen over the past decades.

For example. Dr. Lorezo Refola and Dr. Suzana Petanceska, along with other program directors at NIA, are supporting a portfolio of programs that are specific to issues that have made drug discovery elusive. To name a few of these projects: MODEL-AD addresses fit-for-use animal models to property emulate the Alzheimer's disease process: ADNI houses imaging data from multiple studies; AMP-AD, which stands for Accelerating Medicines Partnership, is a portal for AD-related data, analysis results, methodologies, and research tools; and IADRP, International Alzheimer's Disease Research Portfolio, looks at who has invested In what research, from a globat perspective.

The NIH Library has a great group of talented librarians. James King is a branch chief who oversees several services areas, including Custom Information Solutions, which is where the AlzPED project falls. Other areas of the library where I have an interest include data visualization, bioinformatics. and bibiometrics. I like being able to work with this group collaboratively, learning tram peers and gleaning ideas that can be applied to AlzPED. I am rarely at the library, as I sit in an NIA space, but love that I ean work with NIH librarians from time to time.

Given the efforts under way at NIA, I'm encouraged that substantial progress will be made toward effective treatments in my lifetime. …

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