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Dr. Nunzia Bettinsoli Giuse

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1957

Medical School

Universita' degli Studi di Brescia



Career Path

Education: Medical informatics
Dr. Nunzia Bettinsoli Giuse


I became a doctor primarily because of my desire to help others. I was additionally influenced by the expectations of my family and of the small mountain community in which I grew up near Brescia, Italy. As one of the few individuals from my town who entered high school instead of enlisting in the workforce to support my family, I felt a certain pressure to succeed. Compounding this feeling was my understanding of the community's investment in my education. My achievement in high school turned me into a role model for the youth of my community. While I was not the first person from my small town to attend the university, I was the first woman to do so, as well as the first to attend medical school. With these honors came the responsibility of making my family and village proud, compelling me to strive to improve myself and reach for even higher goals. I would have enjoyed staying in the education arena where I had my first professional position, but thought that greater satisfaction for myself and society could be achieved through medicine. The biomedical sciences always held my interest.


Dr. Nunzia Bettinsoli Giuse, the first woman from her small town in Italy to attend university, was the director of Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee from 2007 to 2016. Since 1985, she has worked in the relatively new field of medical informatics, evaluating methods for the collection and presentation of the rapidly expanding body of current medical knowledge to aid research and diagnosis. She earned national recognition for her research and management of the library, and from 2001 to 2006 holds the title of 'distinguished member' of the Academy of Health Information Professionals.

Nunzia Bettinsoli was born in Italy in 1957, growing up in a small mountain community near Brescia. Although some men from her town had attended university, she was the first woman to do so, and the first member of her family to go into higher education. She wanted to become a physician because of her interest in the sciences and a strong desire to help others, and with the support of her family and the wider community as the first woman to go to college she felt compelled to succeed.

She graduated from the Universita' degli Studi di Brescia in 1985, and took up a post as a consultant in medical informatics at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Giuse stayed at the university for nine years, undertaking research into the acquisition of medical knowledge, supervising medical students as they developed their own knowledge base for their careers, and teaching methods for accessing and understanding medical knowledge through library resources. The research she published during this period is considered an important contribution to the emerging field of medical informatics and has established her reputation as a leading authority on the subject.

In 1994 Dr. Giuse joined the Division of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical center as assistant professor and director of the Active Digital Library at Eskind Biomedical Library. She was made an associate professor and deputy director of the library in 1997, and has served as director since 1998.

Dr. Giuse began her career in medicine as a student with dyslexia with few role models or mentors, and greatly appreciates the support of her family, her husband Dario Giuse, and several professional colleagues who have helped her since. She has particularly enjoyed passing on that legacy of mentorship, and actively promotes continuing education and professional development amongst her staff. Specifically, she has introduced models of adult learning from other fields into the educational structures within the library.

As an acknowledged specialist in the field, Dr. Giuse has led a number of large-scale studies funded by research grants from the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and in 1995 served as principal investigator on the 'AIDS Information Outreach Project' and 'Integrating Health Science Librarians into Biomedicine'. She has also published numerous articles and contributed chapters to five books, as well as lecturing widely on the topic. From 2002 to 2003 Dr. Giuse was chair of the Medical Informatics Section of the Medical Library Association.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

My family did not know from experience the sort of understanding and assistance that was needed for me to pursue my education at the university. As the first member of my generation to go beyond the standard elementary level of education, I had neither role models nor tutors to guide me through the huge commitment of a university education. My determination alone sustained me through college. Moreover, my learning was further complicated by my dyslexia.

How do I make a difference?

Remembering my simple upbringing makes me sympathetic and willing to help others. While the community in which I was raised didn't necessarily understand the education I was striving for, it nonetheless supported my drive for success and celebrated those successes with my family. In a society that favored higher education for men, my mother took the unique stand that in our family educational support would be granted to all family members who aimed high and who first helped themselves, regardless of gender. This type of environmental support made a huge impression on me and makes me eager to support others in turn. In my search for excellence, I need to feel that others with whom I work are also striving to do their best. I try to be particularly attentive to matching staff skills and interests to projects. My staff tell me that they are kept vital and passionate about their jobs through the challenges I give them, the variety of projects on which they work and through the professional mentorship I extend to them.

Who was my mentor?

My first mentor was my mother, who would have loved to pursue her education but was prevented from doing so by family circumstances. She encouraged and supported me to strive to attain my dreams.

Throughout high school at the Instituto Santa Maria degli Angeli, an Ursuline nun, Madre Bernada, mentored me on many levels. As a strict disciplinarian, she taught me the value of achievement through hard work. She also helped me better understand myself in terms of my personality, strengths and weaknesses—lessons which I recall to this day. Under Madre Bernada's guidance, I was able to overcome my fears about being thrust into an educational environment containing individuals with whom I shared no common background. My relationship with Madre Bernada continues to this day.

My career mentorship has come not only from my husband, Dario, who has played a strong role in supporting and advising me from the time I left Italy to the present, but also from three other individuals. At the University of Pittsburgh both Jack D. Myers, M.D. and Randy Miller, M.D., took it to heart to guide me through informatics training. More recently in my tenure at Vanderbilt University, William Stead, M.D. has been my mentor, especially regarding issues of leadership.

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