NIH links diet aid searchers to medical database

A National Institutes of Health Web site about dietary supplements will now link to a National Library of Medicine database through an IT maintenance contract recently awarded to a Northern Virginia company.

The 2-year-old Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements site, originally was designed to list all federally funded dietary supplement research in one online warehouse. Health effects of herbal and other loosely regulated supplements are difficult for consumers to judge.

CARDS now stores about 1,180 records dating from 1999; 2002 data will be added next month, and nutrition projects funded by non-NIH agencies several months after that, starting with the Agriculture Department.

With the help of Altum Inc. of Chantilly, Va., NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements has linked CARDS to NLM’s PubMed, a database of indexed abstracts from almost 4,500 journals published in more than 70 countries.

CARDS inventories projects that are supported by federal dollars, but it doesn’t give their scientific results—a job PubMed can now for publications associated with the projects and their principal investigators.

“You can see what actually resulted” from federally funded research, said Carol Haggans, a program analyst in the Office of Dietary Supplements at NIH. “We found that’s what a lot of people were interested in.”

SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., was the original NIH contractor that developed the CARDS database in 1999.


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