Intended for healthcare professionals

Information In Practice


BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 26 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1068

Free Medline on the Web

  • Many medical schools now provide access to Medline for academic staff and students, but even if you have no link to academia getting free access is no longer a problem. Several web sites now offer free access to Medline for anyone. The HealthGate site not only offers free Medline searches on but also provides access (at a modest cost) to a range of other biomedical databases

  • The Medscape site also offers free and easy Medline access after a simple registration procedure on The site also provides a valuable selection of online articles covering a wide range of medical specialties, plus a journal club and material for continuing medical education

  • The KnowledgeFinder site is offering free fast Medline searches for a limited trial period on Useful features include a choice between fuzzy logic and Boolean searches and a range of search options to suit beginners to experts

  • A subset of Medline that deals with genetics is available from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information as part of the Entrez set of databases on

The visible human

  • For most doctors, any mention of preclinical anatomy teaching evokes memories of the smell of formalin. Medical students in the future, however, are just as likely to use a computer as a scalpel to explore human anatomy, thanks to the Visible Human Project: This project, initiated by the US National Library of Medicine, aims to create complete, anatomically detailed, three dimensional representations of male and female human bodies. Transverse computed tomographic, magnetic resonance imaging, and cryosection images have already been collected at 1 mm intervals from a male and a female cadaver—sample images and animations are available on the project's web site

  • The project has spawned numerous initiatives based on the visible human datasets. There are half a dozen different ways to view the data. For example, the NPAC Visible Human Viewer, a Java applet developed by Michael Chang and Paul Coddington, on allows readers with a Java enabled browser (such as Netscape 3) to explore the visible man data

  • The Voxel-man project, a multimedia anatomy project at the University of Hamburg, has used the visible man data to create stunning three dimensional anatomical images:

  • Even schools are using the data—the Smokey Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado has its own Visible Human Project on

Medical education on the Web

  • Stephen Watt and his colleagues at Newcastle Medical School have just produced a revised version of their web based tutorial on the anatomy of the knee at Newcastle Medical School,, complete with diagrams, text, and annotated magnetic resonance images

  • David Nicholl, a neurology registrar in Birmingham, has produced an excellent tutorial covering all aspects of Parkinson's disease,, which includes Quicktime movies of the parkinsonian gait and other features of the disease

  • Andrew Downie and colleagues at the United Medical and Dental Schools in London have produced the UMDS Radiology Teaching File, a web site that houses numerous x rays and other radiological images and features radiology case studies suitable for those sitting professional examinations

Compiled by Mark Pallen (email

If you are not yet on line you can find help in getting connected in the ABC of Medical Computing (eds Nicholas Lee and Andrew Millman, BMJ Publishing), which has Mark Pallen's Guide to the Internet as a supplement.

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