Dr. Donald Lindberg, 85, Dies


I am sad to report that Dr. Donald Lindberg, past Director of the National Library of Medicine, has passed away. Dr. Lindberg was an exceptional visionary who saw the need for computers in medicine many years ago.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr, Lindberg funded the Visible Human Project and the development of ITK, CMake, Cable and Dart (CDash) efforts. He was an advocate of open source and open science. I was fortunate enough to have talked before his NLM Board of Regents in February 2002 about the status of ITK. He was impressed with the software but especially impressed that we were able as a community to create such large systems. In 2014, he invited me to speak at “NLM: The National Library of Medicine, 1984-­2014: Voyaging to the Future”, which was a tribute to his accomplishments at NLM.

Here is a link to that symposium.

We lost a great leader, a great man, and visionary. I hope the next time you use ITK or CMake that you take a moment to thank him.

Here is his obituary.



I was privileged to work at NLM for 19 years, most of those under Dr. Lindberg’s leadership. Without him, there would be no Office of High Performance Computing and Communications under Dr. Michael Ackerman. At OHPCC we worked on the Visible Human project, ITK/SimpleITK and variety of wacky visualization projects (i.e., whatever percolated from Terry Yoo’s brain :slight_smile:).

It’s rare in this day and age to be given the freedom to pursue novel, outside-the-box projects. Dr. Lindberg gave us that freedom. He hired good people, and then empowered them to do good things, regardless of the subject area. Sadly, after he retired and Dr. Ackerman retired, much of that was lost.