Julia Royall has been working in international health in Africa since 1990 and has more than 30 years of professional experience in the communications field. She has focused her efforts on how access to medical information and the Internet can support improved health, and on the ways in which new technology solutions can assist remote and underserved communities in developing countries. Throughout her career Ms. Royall has been committed to bringing together information and technology with partners, projects, and funding, using a variety of media in US and international settings.
She was recruited to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 to create a malaria research communications network (MIMCom) to support scientists in Africa as part of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria. The first network of its kind, MIMCom comprised 27 research sites in 14 African countries and engaged over 30 partner organizations and institutions in the US, UK, Europe, and Africa. She came to NLM to address this target of opportunity and around the target created a center for innovation in information delivery in Africa. For this work she received the NIH Director’s Award of Merit, the NLM Director’s Honor Award, and was honored by Federal Computer Week magazine.
In 2001, she was made Chief of NLM’s Office of International Programs. Focusing on Africa, her program comprises outreach to medical librarians, medical journal editors, researchers, medical students, end users. In addition to new initiatives, she has adapted NLM databases for use in Africa. In 2007-8, she was Fulbright Scholar to Uganda. She is now a Global Health Information Consultant and Adjunct Faculty, Division of Health Sciences Informatics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Under her leadership, NLM has applied greater focus on global health by piloting demonstration projects which draw strength from one another and tie into NLM’s major programs and databases. These areas of emphasis touch and strengthen all phases of the research process – from journal editors and librarians to today’s scientists and those of the future. The African Medical Journal Editors Partnership Program strengthens 6 African journals for acceptance into Medline through capacity building and partnerships with 6 major medical journals in the US and UK; this program makes important research being carried out in endemic countries available to the world.
While at NLM, she served on the NIH Global Health Working Group and the NIH mHealth Inter-Institute Interest Group devoted to research in the field of mobile health. In 2007-8, she was Fulbright Scholar to Uganda.
The NLM Associates Program has accepted 6 fellows from the African continent over the past 10 years; they now compose a network of former African associates and are having a demonstrable impact at seven universities in seven African countries. She has guided African medical students in the creation of MedlinePlus African tutorials on malaria and diarrhea; implementing these tutorials as part of an “information intervention” at the village level has resulted in small research projects – capacity building for the future. These programs all build on Ms. Royall’s leadership in the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria program.
Prior to coming to the National Library of Medicine, she was Deputy Director of SatelLife, which created the first telecommunications system for health in Africa. While at SatelLife she initiated and directed the HealthNet Information Service, which served and continues to serve African countries.
Her research interests include how information technology interventions can make a difference in health in Africa; African American and slave trade history; PanAfricanism; and the relationship between African traditional communication systems, arts, and the Internet.