General Practice


BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 22 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:578
  1. Mark Pallena (m.pallen{at}
  1. a

    Microbial genomes

    Human genetics on line

    • Although only a small fraction of the human genome has been sequenced, powerful databases have been developed to provide information on human genetic disorders. The On-line Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database ( is intended for use primarily by doctors and other professionals concerned with genetic disorders, by genetics researchers, and by advanced students in science and medicine. All the information you could want is there on over 8000 inherited disorders-including details of clinical and biochemical features, diagnosis, genetics, and animal models, together with pictures and hypertext references to Medline articles and sequence information in the Entrez database.

    • Along the same lines as OMIM is Genline (, although as yet it contains a much smaller set of entries.

    Seek and ye shall find

    • The semi-anarchic nature of the Internet means that there can never be an up to date, comprehensive index of what is available on line. However, searching for medical information is made easier by two indexing sites: in Britain OMNI (Organising Medical Networked Information) provides a searchable list of sites, with some commentary, on, while in the United States the medical matrix plays a similar role on

    • If it's shareware that you are after, the Higher Education National Software Archive ( provides a well indexed site full of shareware (although you have to be a British academic to access it).

    • To find out what is being said on the network news groups, try DejaNews (, which stores all sorts of news group postings, or, to focus on biomedical news groups, visit the Biosci site (

    • If you are looking for someone's email address try the Four11 site (

    • Finally, if you want to buy a book over the Internet, visit Amazon on

    Post-traumataic stress disorder

    Medicine and anti-medicine

    • While within the medical profession we struggle to practise evidence based medicine, many outside are turning their backs on science and conventional medicine. Those wishing to reverse this trend would do well to visit Brian Wall's HealthWatch page on HealthWatch is a British based charity which ensures that the alternative, the complementary, the unsubstantiated, and the plain silly are all put through the blast furnace of evidence based medicine.

    • Sadly, one of the staunchest defenders of science against anti-science, Carl Sagan, died at the end of last year after a long struggle with myelodysplasia ( Sagan was author of the best selling science book of all time, Cosmos, and, most recently, produced a defence of science in his Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark ( For a review of Sagan's life and work, visit Michael Rapp's unofficial Carl Sagan web site on

    Trauma Moulage


    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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