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National Library of Medicine Announces Departure of NCBI Director Dr. David Lipman

May 3, 2017

Portrait of David Lipman

The National Library of Medicine today announced the departure of David J. Lipman, MD, who has served as the Director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) since its creation almost 30 years ago.  Dr. Lipman is assuming the position of Chief Science Officer at Impossible Foods, a new company applying molecular biology to the food industry. 

NCBI creates and maintains a series of databases relevant to biotechnology and biomedicine, and is a world-renowned and trusted resource for bioinformatics tools and services. Major NCBI databases include GenBank for DNA sequences and PubMed, one of the most heavily used sites in the world for the search and retrieval of biomedical information.

 “It’s hard to think of anyone at NIH who has had a greater impact on the way research is conducted around the world than David Lipman,” noted NLM Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD. “Under his visionary leadership, NCBI has greatly improved access to biomedical information and genomic data for scientists, health professionals, and the public worldwide—something we now practically take for granted.”

Under Dr. Lipman’s leadership, NCBI has become an essential resource for biomedical researchers, practitioners, patients as well as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. During his tenure, NCBI has grown from a handful of staff working to link biomedical literature and DNA sequences to a staff of hundreds that produce more than 40 integrated databases that serve scientists and the general public. Each day more than 3 million users access NCBI databases and download more than 50 terabytes of data.

Dr. Lipman has been an advocate for promoting open access to the world’s biomedical literature and launched PubMed in 1997, followed by the full-text repository, PubMed Central (PMC), in 2000.   He was instrumental in implementing the NIH Public Access Policy whereby NIH-funded papers are made publicly available in PMC.

He has also maintained an active research program in influenza evolution and molecular evolution of the genome and proteome.  Working with CDC, FDA and USDA he has developed a system for applying whole genome sequencing for the surveillance and detection of foodborne pathogens. These methods have significantly improved the speed of detecting outbreaks of foodborne disease. 

His research in creating rapid sequence comparison algorithms such as FASTA and BLAST has earned him an international reputation and his journal articles describing the methods are among the most highly cited in biology.

Among many honors, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the National Academy of Medicine, and a fellow of the International Society of Computational Biology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American College of Medical Informatics.  He received the prestigious Jim Gray eScience Award from Microsoft in 2013.


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a leader in research in biomedical informatics and data science and the world’s largest biomedical library. NLM conducts and supports research in methods for recording, storing, retrieving, preserving, and communicating health information. NLM creates resources and tools that are used billions of times each year by millions of people to access and analyze molecular biology, biotechnology, toxicology, environmental health, and health services information. Additional information is available at

Last Reviewed: May 3, 2017