The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology is remembering LMP professor emeritus Donald Connelly, a faculty leader and pioneer in health informatics who passed away September 20.  His StarTribune obituary is here.

Connelly was inducted into the American College of Medical Informatics in 1986.  In recognizing him with its Honorary Fellow Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003, the Association of Pathology Informatics (API) cited his research on “clinical decision decision-makingmaking related to effective laboratory testing and the development of information technology tools that clinicians choose to use in support of their patient care activities.”   API noted that in 1994 that Connelly’s clinical informatics research group implemented the world's first Web-based laboratory results reporting system to support day-to-day patient care.

Connelly earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from North Dakota State University.  From 1965 to 1966, he worked as a digital design engineer at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota; in 1967 as an electrical engineer in the Section of Engineering at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; and from 1967 to 1970 as a programmer in the Department of Physiology at the University of Minnesota.  In 1971, he earned an MD degree from the University.  Subsequently, Connelly completed an internship in internal medicine and a public health computer sciences fellowship in LMP.   In 1974, he was appointed LMP assistant professor and director of the department’s Laboratory Information Systems Division – a position he held until 1998.  In 1977, Connelly received a Ph.D. in biometry and health information systems from the University.   

In the 1980s and 90s, Connelly served as the associate director of the National Library of Medicine Training Program in Medical Informatics.  From 2001 to 2008, was director of LMP’s Division of Health Informatics (renamed the Institute for Health Informatics in 2006). He also served as the director of the Informatics Shared Resource from 2001 to 2007 and co-director of the Biostatistics and Informatics Shared Resource from 2007 to 2009 at the University’s Masonic Cancer Center.   Connelly retired from the University in 2012.

LMP professor Anthony Killeen wrote to his LMP colleagues: “My first meeting with Don was when I was a new resident on the clinical chemistry rotation many years ago and he was teaching informatics. He was talking about a then-new software tool called a ‘spreadsheet.’ He was a true gentleman and a pioneer in health informatics in the U.S.”

The Institute for Health Informatics has a biographical sketch and an interview with Connelly as part of its Oral History Project. 

The inaugural Connelly Lecture in Pathology Informatics, a series supported by a gift from Michael and Wendy Lougee, featured a talk entitled “Machine learning and AI’s impact on the practice of GI pathology: A fresh look” by University of Michigan informatics professor Ulysses G. J. Balis.  Next month, the second Connelly Lecture features the University of Toronto’s Andrew Evans who will talk about the “Use of digital pathology for frozen section diagnosis in diverse practice settings: One pathologist’s experience” as part of the annual E. T. Bell Fall Symposium.