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DIR Researcher Profile: Dr. Patti Brennan

Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, FAAN

Dr. Brennan

Director, National Library of Medicine
Adjunct Investigator, National Institute of Nursing Research
Advanced Visualization Branch
Division of Intramural Research



Topic: Innovation in visualization to improve patient self-management

Issue: More and more patients are leaving health care settings to receive care within their homes. This shift requires patients to have a greater understanding of, and confidence in, self-management skills. Providing information to patients through static pamphlets or a set of instructions conveyed in clinical language are not ideal methods for achieving optimal home care.

Impact: Dr. Brennan is working on the delivery of health information in new ways that are centered around the patient experience. Her laboratory develops interactive virtual reality experiences to better characterize patients with complex, chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart failure, and the context within which they live. These simulations have several purposes including enabling patients to rehearse problem-solving behaviors to help improve their health outcomes and disease management skills, inspiring design of innovative home care technologies, and improving understanding of the sensory, behavior and cognitive processes that shape self-care.


  • Served as the Lillian L. Moehlman Bascom Professor at the School of Nursing and College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Led the Living Environments Laboratory (now the Virtual Environments Group) at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
    • Worked in a laboratory featuring a 6-sided virtual reality CAVE, which enabled her group to re-create visual representations of any environment on earth
    • Focused on developing new methods for the effective visualization of high-dimensional data
    • Explored the impact of household contexts on personal health information management
  • Performed clinical practice in critical care nursing and psychiatric nursing
  • Conducted external evaluations of novel health information technology architectures and repurposed engineering methods for health care purposes


  • Developed ComputerLink, an electronic network designed to reduce isolation and improve self-care among home care patients
  • Directed HeartCare, a web-based tailored information and communication service that helps home-dwelling cardiac patients recover faster and with fewer symptoms
  • Directed Project HealthDesign, an initiative designed to stimulate the next generation of personal health records


  • PhD, Industrial Engineering; University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Master of Science, Nursing; University of Pennsylvania


  • PhD honoris causa, Emory University (2019); University of South Florida (2018); Case Western Reserve University (2018)
  • Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence; American College of Medical Informatics, 2018
  • Elected member; New York Academy of Medicine, 2009
  • Elected member; National Academy of Medicine, 2001
  • Fellow; American College of Medical Informatics, 1993
  • Fellow; American Academy of Nursing, 1991

Selected Publications

  1. Biomedical informatics and data science: Evolving fields with significant overlap.
    Brennan PF, Chiang MF, Ohno-Machado L. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 Jan 1;25(1):2-3. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx146. No abstract available. PMID: 29267964.
  2. Anticipating the third century of the National Library of Medicine: A call for engagement.
    Brennan PF. J Med Libr Assoc. 2017 Apr;105(2):113-114. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2017.190. No abstract available. PMID: 28377671.
  3. Biomedical informatics advancing the national health agenda: The AMIA 2015 year-in-review in clinical and consumer informatics.
    Roberts K, Boland MR, Pruinelli L, Dcruz J, Berry A, Georgsson M, Hazen R, Sarmiento RF, Backonja U, Yu KH, Jiang Y, Brennan PF. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2017 Apr 1;24(e1):e185-e190. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocw103. Review. PMID: 27497798.
  4. Correlated gamma-based hidden Markov model for the smart asthma management based on rescue inhaler usage.
    Son J, Brennan PF, Zhou S. Stat Med. 2017 May 10;36(10):1619-1637. doi: 10.1002/sim.7214. Epub 2017 Jan 24. PMID: 28118685.
  5. Crafting the third century of the National Library of Medicine.
    Brennan PF. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016 Sep;23(5):858. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocw122. No abstract available. PMID: 27562747.
  6. The National Library of Medicine: Accelerating discovery, delivering information, improving health.
    Brennan PF. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Dec 6;165(11):808-809. doi: 10.7326/M16-1737. Epub 2016 Aug 16. No abstract available. PMID: 27537845.
  7. The effects of an online theory-based bone health program for older adults.
    Nahm ES, Resnick B, Brown C, Zhu S, Magaziner J, Bellantoni M, Brennan PF, Charters K, Brown J, Rietschel M, An M, Park BK.
    J Appl Gerontol. 2017 Sep;36(9):1117-1144. doi: 10.1177/0733464815617284. Epub 2015 Dec 16. PMID:26675352.
  8. Informatics to support the IOM social and behavioral domains and measures.
    Hripcsak G, Forrest CB, Brennan PF, Stead WW.
    Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : Jamia. 22: 921-4. PMID 25914098 DOI: 10.1093/jamia/ocv035
  9. Virtualizing living and working spaces: Proof of concept for a biomedical space-replication methodology.
    Brennan PF, Ponto K, Casper G, Tredinnick R, Broecker M.
    Journal of Biomedical Informatics. PMID 26173040 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbi.2015.07.007
  10. Observing health in everyday living: ODLs and the care-between-the-care Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.
    Brennan PF, Casper G. 19: 3-8.DOI: 10.1007/s00779-014-0805-0

For Dr. Brennan’s full bibliography, please visit PubMed