NLM-Scrubber Announcements

Previous Announcements

April 2019

Dear NLM-Scrubber Users,

We uploaded a user manual and a set of example files. You can download them from the Download page. We hope that you would find them useful. If you have suggestions to improve the user manual and examples, please send your feedback to us via

December 31, 2018

Dear NLM-Scrubber Users,

We are happy to announce a number of improvements in our new release. We hope you will find NLM-Scrubber's new features useful and the package more user-friendly in your privacy preservation operations.

  1. Faster NLM-Scrubber: NLM-Scrubber was plagued with shortcomings of the compiler that we used in our development environment. In the past it took a significant amount of time to load its libraries to the memory before starting the de-identification operation. We found a way to bypass this issue so now its startup time is much faster.
  2. Reentrant System: Some of our users requested a reentrant system that would not require the initialization step for every successive run. Now, once the NLM-Scrubber loads a new session, it stays alive, allows the user to run multiple successive de-identification experiments without reloading the system, and does not quit until the user terminates the session explicitly.
  3. Better Preservation of Scientific Information: You can now use a white list of terms (e.g., gene names or protocol numbers of interest) to ensure their preservations by NLM-Scrubber.
  4. Better Preservation of Privacy: You can also do the oppositeuse a black list of terms (e.g., your organization's name or personal names of health care providers) that might be unrecognized by NLM-Scrubber as personal identifiers to be deleted.
  5. Creating Taillored Limited Data Sets: If allowed by your protocol and required for your research, you can keep specific personal identifiers and create a limited data set (LDS) as allowed by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. An LDS may contain certain address information, age information for ages over 89 years or full date information that may be necessary for your research. Note, however, since LDS is short of fully de-identified data, HIPAA Privacy Rule considers it as protected health information, whose use would require great care and extreme caution.
  6. Simple, User Friendly Graphical Interface: In the past, we avoided introducing many of these above mentioned functionalities so as not to overwhelm our new users with a multitude of options and infrequently used functions. In this new version of NLM-Scrubber, you will find a rudimentary graphical user interface, which we hope will make NLM-Scrubber much more user friendly, especially for our new users. The NLM-Scrubber GUI enables the user to easily create a configuration file while hiding many of the above mentioned complexities under a menu of Options. This facilitates a straightforward operation for the default mode and at the same time provides requisite tools to our advanced users without the burden of dealing with the details of the configuration file syntax, necessary for advanced modes of de-identification operations.