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NLM Mourns the Loss of Donald West King, MD, former Deputy Director for Research and Education

Dr. Donald West King

Donald West King, MD, died from complications of cancer on October 21, 2018.

Dr. King served as Deputy Director for Research and Education for the National Library of Medicine from 2002 to 2008. An ambassador and advocate for NLM’s information products and services, Dr. King created opportunities to highlight NLM’s mission and achievements, and he nurtured relationships with a diverse range of scientific and public health organizations and the library community.

“Donald King, my predecessor at NLM, brought to that office the remarkable combination of intelligence, wisdom, and courtly charm that had earned him an international reputation as an academic pathologist,” said Milton Corn, MD, NLM’s Deputy Director for Research and Education. “He served the NLM director as a trusted ambassador who could handle any problem quietly and without friction.”

Following his retirement from NLM, Dr. King served as Chairman of the Board and President of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM).

“We are exceedingly grateful for Dr. King’s significant contributions to the development of our strategy and growth,” said FNLM Chairman Glen Campbell. “We will miss his warmth, his humorous and congenial advice, and his company while we build on the solid legacy he has left us.”

Former NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, said, “In addition to Don King’s wise scientific advice, he was charming and exceedingly generous. He provided all of NLM with his unfailingly encouraging ‘cheers.’”

A Lindberg-King lectureship, established in 2015, is held annually to honor both Dr. King and Dr. Lindberg. The lectureship supports the mission of its sponsors: NLM, FNLM, and the American Medical Informatics Association. The lectures provide a forum to bring important insights about the history, current state, and future prospects for advances in medical informatics and pathobiology to a broad scientific and public audience.

Prior to joining NLM, Dr. King held positions of leadership at many prestigious institutions, including the American Registry of Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; the Given Institute of Pathobiology; the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago; and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He also taught at the University of Louisville, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University.


Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. As one of the 27 Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health, NLM advances research in biomedical informatics and data science and is the world's largest medical library. Millions of scientists, health professionals and the public use NLM services every day.