NetlinesBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7080.578 (Published 22 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:578
Sometime early in the next century, the human genome sequence will be completed (seehttp://www.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk/Public/human-gen-db.html for some human genome links). However, just now all the action seems to be in the field of microbial genomes. The genome of Escherichia coli has just been completed (see http://mol.genes.nig.ac.jp/ and http://www.genetics.wisc.edu/) and is the third bacterial genome to be published, following those of Haemophilus influenzae and Mycoplasma genitalium (http://www.tigr.org/tdb/mdb/mdb.html).
As many as 100 microbial genomes are likely to be sequenced in the next few years. Terry Gaasterland's running list of genomes in progress (http://www.mcs.anl.gov/home/gaasterl/genomes.html) already lists 45 bacterial genome projects.
One astonishing aspect of this subject is the rapidity and ease with which data on genome sequences are made available to the general public over the world wide web. In many cases you can do sequence similarity searches on genomes even before they are completed — examples include the genomes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum at the Sanger Centre (http://www.sanger.ac.uk/pathogens/) and that of Neisseria gonorrhoeae at the University of Oklahoma (http://dna1.chem.uoknor.edu/gono.html).
Several other sites offer facilities that put genomic data into a functional context, including EcoCyc and HinCyC (http://www.ai.sri.com/ecocyc/ecocyc.html) and the NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Complete_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 (http://www3.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Omim/) 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 (http://www.hslib.washington.edu/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 http://www.omni.ac.uk/, while in the United States the medical matrix plays a similar role on http://www.slackinc.com/matrix/.
If it's shareware that you are after, the Higher Education National Software Archive (http://www.hensa.ac.uk/) 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 (http://www.dejanews.com/), which stores all sorts of news group postings, or, to focus on biomedical news groups, visit the Biosci site (http://www.bio.net/).
If you are looking for someone's email address try the Four11 site (http://www.Four11.com/).
Finally, if you want to buy a book over the Internet, visit Amazon on http://www.amazon.com/.
Post-traumataic stress disorder
The US National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (http://www.dartmouth.edu/dms/ptsd) has recently launched a web interface (http://dciswww.dartmouth.edu/cgi-bin/dcis/wdi?&51001%20Catalog) to its bibliographic index of the worldwide literature on post-traumatic stress disorder. The site also features fact sheets on the condition and links to related material on the Internet.
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 http://user.itl.net/~brian/HWATCH.HTML. 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 (http://www.sciam.com/explorations/010697sagan/010697explorations.html). 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 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1561006491/7154-8200924-333098). For a review of Sagan's life and work, visit Michael Rapp's unofficial Carl Sagan web site on http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~mrapp/sagan/toc.html.
Trauma Moulage is an interactive educational web site (http://www.trauma.org/resus/moulage/moulage.html) in which you are a casualty department doctor who must assess and treat an injured patient. It's not easy-I killed the patient several times over, so I had better stick to laboratory medicine. If, like me, you had never come across the word “moulage” before, you can look it up in the online Webster's dictionary on http://gs213.sp.cs.cmu.edu/prog/webster?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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