NLM Mourns the Loss of H. Kenneth Walker, MD, MACP, FAAN, Former Chair of the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents
H. Kenneth Walker, MD, MACP, FAAN, died on February 23, 2018, at the age of 81.
Dr. Walker was a member of the NLM Board of Regents from 1991–1994 and served as chair from 1994–1995. He then served as a consultant to the Board throughout succeeding decades, last attending a Board meeting in September 2017.
A champion for medical libraries and public access to medical information, Dr. Walker brought an expert clinician’s perspective to assessing the utility of NLM products and services and a deep understanding of their current and potential impact for the underserved in the US and in the developing world.
As a Board member and consultant, he led influential assessments of the Library’s toxicology information services, contributed substantially to strategic planning efforts, and demonstrated his legendary acumen and diplomacy as chair of site visit teams during re-competitions of the Regional Medical Libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Dr. Walker was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.
Dr. Walker was a professor of medicine and neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, a professor of global health in Rollins School of Public Health, and an assistant chief of medicine at Grady Health System, where he pioneered the electronic medical system. In honor of his more than 40 years of leadership and service to the internal medicine residency program, a Walker Resident Education Fund was established at Emory.
He also led the Atlanta-Tbilisi Partnership, a collaboration between educational and health care institutions in the Republic of Georgia and Atlanta, which helped improve the quality of health care, the education of health care professionals, and access to medical information in the Republic of Georgia. In 2005, Walker was named an honorary citizen of Georgia and in 2006 received a rare Outstanding Citizen Achievement Citation from the U.S. Agency for International Development, jointly with Dr. Irakli Sasania of the M. Iashvili Central Children's Hospital in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Among many other awards, in 2016 Dr. Walker was honored with the Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award. At a ceremony on March 1, he will be honored posthumously with Emory University's highest honor, the Emory Medal.
“Dr. Walker’s early interest in the best application of computers to medicine and organizing medical data and his abiding focus on what is best for patients were invaluable for us at the National Library of Medicine,” said Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, director of NLM. “NLM and the world has lost a good friend. His combination of great insight and grace will be missed by all of us.”
For an obituary of Dr. Walker, go to https://www.afterlife.co/us/obituary-stone-mountain-kenneth-walker-6990984. For a video outlining his accomplishments as a professor of medicine and neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KcjbH_2Bak.
Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine https://www.nlm.nih.gov 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.