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US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

www.nlm.nih.gov

Donald Lindberg has been director of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) since 1984 and has a large staff at Bethesda, Maryland who have assembled the world's largest biomedical library. Lindberg welcomes us to delve into every significant program of the Library, from medical history to biotechnology. There is a feeling of purpose here and a welcome freedom from gratuitous advertisements and mood images. This is the home of MEDLINE, not just a link. The site is very simply laid out with obvious menu choices that lead to other lists of choices. The first choice is “Health Information” leading to MEDLINE/PubMed, MEDLINEplus, and the NLM Gateway. MEDLINE is NLM's database of indexed journal citations and abstracts covering 4,500 journals with new citations added weekly. MEDLINE includes articles indexed from 1966 to the present. Citations prior to 1966 are located in OLDMEDLINE. A superset of library services is available through the PubMed portal of the NLM. PubMed includes many peripheral areas of chemistry and physics that are not included within the biological science limits of MEDLINE. If you choose MEDLINEplus, then the look and feel changes to a graphic, more contemporary style than the home page. There are lots of seductive browsing categories and latest news items, some of which distracted me away from the diminutive SEARCH box at the top left hand side that leads to the journal citations. Depending on how specific the search topic is, there may be hundreds of citations returned. The NLM have ingeniously arranged their report of “hits” to be categorized by further subcategories. For example, a crude search for “diabetes” returned the subcategories “Diabetes” (general articles), “Diabetic Eye Problems,” “Diabetic Foot,” “Diabetic Nerve Problems,” and “Juvenile Diabetes.” Making further choices leads to ever more specific areas, and of course the journal citations. For browsing, users can choose “Health Topics” (over 600 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness), “Drug Information” (prescription and over-the-counter medicines), “Medical Encyclopedia” (with pictures and diagrams), “Dictionary” (spellings and definitions of medical words), and “Health News” from the past 30 days. Additional links are provided to US hospitals, local libraries, health organizations, and international sites. Within “Health Topics,” the subchoices are mostly derivatives of anatomy and pathology, but you can also choose the single topic “Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism.” The level of information here under “Health Topics” is inadequate for most university teaching, although the articles have simple diagrams that may be of use in teaching.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

www.chclibrary.org

A Google search to resolve some acid-base physiology led me to this site. The information contained on this website, although intended as a source of general health information, is often provided at a level suited to university teaching. There are over 80 acknowledged contributors, all holding medical or other formal qualifications. The funding for this site is derived from a bequest from Joseph F. Smith, a surgeon who resided in Wisconsin from 1908 to 1952. Dr. Smith possessed a strong commitment to medical education and endowed a medical library in 1948. Clearly the trustees have extended the concept to keep the service contemporary. The simple home page is largely a series of links to services in Wisconsin and the United States. Look to the top left hand side of the home page and select “Medical library patient information.” Then you get access to the 1500 entries on medical conditions that are part of the primary resource at this site. “Search CHC patient education” leads to health issues by category. Medical illustrations drawn for this library can be chosen, and you may find that the representations of the digestive system and immune system are suited to teaching. The power in the site, however, is the topic discussions that can be accessed by alphabetic entry to lists or by typing in a search phrase to the “Google” box on the home page. The resulting hits look just like a general Google search of the web, but this is deceptive. The website uses Google as the search protocol, but the search is conducted only on the CHC library. “Diabetes” produced 402 hits, “glucose” produced 92 hits, and “hemoglobin ” produced 95 hits. The well-presented entries use intuitive color coding to highlight cross-referenced terms so that, for example, clicking on carbon monoxide poisoning while reading about hemoglobin leads to the expected information. Between the primary information and the links at this site it should be possible to answer any life science query.

UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

muscle.ucsd.edu/index.shtml

The University of California at San Diego Muscle Physiology Laboratory is a prominent center of research bridging medical and scientific advances. The laboratory employs physiologists, hand surgeons, and other practitioners, as well as teaching graduates and undergraduates. What you will locate here is a description of the ongoing work, copiously backed by hyperlinks to journal publications. The menu choice “Current Projects” leads to the main primary data at the site. There are clear descriptions of the muscle physiology under investigation and excellent photographs of the subject material. Even if you have minor interest in muscle you will find that we still have a lot more to learn about this well studied tissue. For example, the group is studying muscle spasticity as a cause of severe joint deformity and making measurements of sarcomere lengths to gain some insight. “Evidence suggests that spastic muscles are themselves different from normal muscles, likely an effect of their abnormal neural input. For example, it has been shown that muscle fiber size variability and fiber type distribution are different from that of normal muscle. Additionally, experiments have demonstrated that while some spastic muscles have a normal stretch reflex, intrinsic muscle stiffness is significantly higher compared with control muscle. These studies suggest that the properties of spastic muscle are not normal and yet, despite the prevalence of this entity, the muscle changes due to spasticity are poorly understood.” After browsing through a number of projects relating to medical applications of muscle physiology, you may wish to acquire even more information. A strength of the site is a list of links to other primary data that would be of particular interest to sports physiologists.

THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

biop.ox.ac.uk/www/mol_of_life/Molecules_of_Life.html

This is a teaching site to illustrate experimental approaches to protein structure determination. It includes selected links to the coordinates of proteins that can then be manipulated using the Rasmol modeling program. There are instructions to students as to how to use the site, and these are written in a fulsome conversational style, for example, “you can grab hold of the protein and turn it around on the screen so that you can see it from all view points.” The interactive elements also include mpeg movies. The movies I watched seem to have been of local Oxford laboratories and showed critical elements of procedure, albeit without added sound. Selecting “Martin's distinctly succinct guide to x-ray crystallography” leads to a summary of the steps, with pictures as the links that expand to provide details. As Martin says, “There's plenty of pictures and movies in the text to show you how it all works.” The intended audience is clearly students, and the odd condescending comment may not be to your liking, for example, “In order to save bunny rabbits, we usually cause bacteria to make the proteins in which we are interested,” There are some clever features like the roller coaster ride over the peptide backbone of a protein, located in “Protein: life's workhorse.” “DNA the molecule of life” is a rather introductory segment. “Prediction: Understanding how Proteins Fold” is more relevant for advanced teaching. Anything from Oxford commands attention, but overall this site is mostly suited to pre-university students.

ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/BIOBK/BioBookTOC.html

The on-line biology book provides lecture outlines, developed over many years of teaching college-level introductory biology by M. Farabee. Use of the text for educational purposes is encouraged, although permission may be needed to use certain copyrighted illustrations. The material shows that Farabee has achieved considerable maturity in making his teaching relevant and graphic. The level and content of these lectures is amazingly close to what the reviewer gives to first-year undergraduate medical students. The topics of particular interest are the laws of thermodynamics, reactions and enzymes, ATP and biological energy, cellular metabolism and fermentation, photosynthesis, introduction to genetics, gene interactions, DNA and molecular genetics, human genetics, protein synthesis, and control of gene expression. If you are preparing a similar series of lectures, then this site may save you a lot of searching and planning. The total of 59 lectures additionally cover a wide range of descriptive biology and ecology.

THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

dmoz.org

4,008,147 sites, 60,112 editors, 533,951 categories. These statistics on the home page give credibility to the claim that the ODP is “the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web.” DMOZ is an acronym for Directory Mozilla, due to an association with Netscape's Mozilla browser. It is completely free. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors. The Open Directory relies on the 60,112 editors to each organize a small portion of the web as reference material, hopefully highlighting only the best content. The ODP offers a search query to interrogate the lists and categories of the 4,008,147 websites. Although it is not a search engine, the ODP does contribute the core directory services for a number of search engines, including Netscape-Search and Google. This would lead us to expect a better hit rate on quality sites by using the ODP relative to search engines. As a test I searched on “diabetes.” This is such an enormous topic that the search returned 116 subcategories that mention diabetes, the one with most hits being 281 in the category “Health: Conditions and Diseases: Endocrine Disorders: Pancreas.” On top of the list was an article located at www.realitycheck.org.au, with the abstract “An Australian site dedicated to, and run by, young adults with diabetes. Features information, advice, personal stories, and an open forum.” A yellow star indicated a special recommendation from the relevant sub-editor. The equivalent search with Google returned 10,500,000 hits with the top site being www.diabetes.org, the American Diabetes Association. So it would seem that the ODP is a potential indicator of rare gems that are hidden in the many pages of nonspecific search engine hits. I searched for “hemoglobin” and received only 12 hits in the ODP, the second of which was www.medicinenet.com, “an in depth look at anemia including a description, detection, hemoglobin, plus causes and treatment.” This is a website previously reviewed here in “Websites of Note” and is a known source of quality information. I suspect that the majority of ODP editors are nonscientific, but they are directing attention to valuable source material that may otherwise be difficult to locate. They deserve special commendation for the fourth listed site using “biochemistry education” as the search phrase (that listing was “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education—Journal launched to promote educational aspects, with short reviews, preparation for lectures, seminars, student presentations and laboratory experiments: www.bambed.org).

THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

  1. Top of page
  2. US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
  3. COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE (CHC) MEDICAL LIBRARY
  4. UCSD MUSCLE PHYSIOLOGY LABORATORY
  5. THE MOLECULES OF LIFE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY
  6. ON-LINE BIOLOGY BOOK
  7. THE OPEN DIRECTORY PROJECT (ODP)
  8. THE MOLECULAR TOOLBOX

www.mgb.pitt.edu/moleculartoolbox.htm

This is an extensive collection of molecular biology bookmarks, provided by Sidney Morris of The University of Pittsburgh. As a user, Morris has organized a listing of the databases and utilities that he has found useful for research and teaching. Casual users are commended to the “Basic Toolkit” section that lists programs to meet the most common needs. Morris states that the resources are biased toward analysis of vertebrate sequences, but links to other species can be tracked down. The 13 section titles give a feel for the high level of organization of the site. I. Getting Started: Tutorials and Guides, II. Basic Toolkit, III. Multi-Link Lists of Databases and Analytical Tools, IV. Search Databases, V. Databases, VI. DNA Analysis Tools, VII. RNA: Gene Expression and Sequence Analysis, VIII. DNA Primers, IX. Proteins: Analysis Tools and Databases, X. Protocols, Tips and Calculations, XI. Molecular Biology Software (mostly free), XII. Bioinformatics Tools, and last XIII. Microarrays. If you can't find what you are looking for, check the links under “Section III.”