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How to look for other unfamiliar pharmaceutical terms
Comments? Questions? Revisions? Mary Chitty 
mchitty@healthtech.com
Last revised October 30, 2013

 



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But lots of terms aren't here yet. (Some never will be.) The following sources are particularly suggested. * Most generally useful for all types of subjects.  I may not list/have the newest editions. 

  • Bains William, Biotechnology A-Z, Oxford University Press, 2003. About 400 entries/ definitions. Particularly good at explaining variant meanings and contexts.  To order: http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-852498-6  

  • Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, W. B. Saunders Co., 29th edition, 2000. 121,160 definitions.

  • FAO Glossary of Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agricultural Organization, 2002, 3196 terms http://www.fao.org/biotech/index_glossary.asp  Not just for food or agriculture. 

  • Glick, David M., Glossary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (3,000+ definitions in 1996 paper edition) http://db.portlandpress.com/glick/search.htm

  • * Google definitions Use define: word or phrase you want http://www.googleguide.com/glossary.html 

  • * IUPAC Comp International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Compendium of Chemical Terminology: Recommendations, compiled by Alan D. McNaught and Andrew Wilkinson, Blackwell Science, 1997. "Gold Book" http://www.chemsoc.org/chembytes/goldbook/ See the bibliography for other IUPAC print and web compilations.

  • King, Robert C. and William D. Stansfield, Dictionary of Genetics, Oxford University Press, 1997. About 6600 definitions. 

  • Lackie JM and JAT Dow, Dictionary of Cell & Molecular Biology, Academic Press, 3rd ed., 1999  7,000+ definitions.   

  • MeSH Medical Subject Headings, (PubMed Browser) National Library of Medicine, Revised annually. 250,000 entry terms, 19,000 main headings. http://www4.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/htbin-post/Entrez/meshbrowser? You can also look for terms in the titles or text words of PubMed Medline articles http://www4.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/[

  • MeSH bibliography http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/intro_biblio2006.html Dictionaries, handbooks, textbooks, websites

  • NHGRI (National Human Genome Research Institute), Glossary of Genetic Terms, ongoing revision. 170+ definitions. http://www.nhgri.nih.gov/DIR/VIP/Glossary/pub_glossary.cgi Includes extended audio definitions.

  • * Onelook Dictionaries, Bob Ware http://onelook.com/index.html  An index to 700+ online dictionaries.

  • *Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oxford University Press, 2000. Over 17,000 main entries. T

  • Science Functional Genomics Resources: Educational resources: A guide to some useful online glossaries http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/plus/sfg/education/glossaries.shtml  Categories cover genetics and genomics, general biology and molecular biology, post- genomics biotech and bioinformatics, medical genomics and specific organisms. Includes this Genomic glossaries.

  • Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page can be very useful.  I particularly like the disambiguation pages and the category pages. 

* Recommended Search Engines
I use Google http://www.google.com (a lot)  more than any other search engines. Google now has a  limited Boolean OR capability (it cannot be combined with an AND) available in Advanced Search  See also  FAQ #2 for examples. Scirus  http://www.scirus.com/   and Teoma http://www.teoma.com/  can also be helpful. 

The Glossary FAQ question #3  has information on using search engines to quantitate variant forms of a word of phrase.

Databases, free and for fee
Electronic databases are great for tracking down current use of terms and tracing how far back theyíve been used. With a very limited budget I use free PubMed http://www4.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/  for the most part. But fee based database vendors such as Dialog http://www.dialog.com/  or Lexis/Nexis http://www.lexis-nexis.com/lncc/  can be cost effective and quick.

Additional recommendations for background information
 Lewin, Benjamin GENES Online Online (full- text) and updated http://www.ergito.com  

Lodish, Harvey, Molecular Cell Biology 4e, WH Freeman & Co.,1999 and website. http://www.whfreeman.com/lodish/

Patient resources links to websites for general patient and disease related information.

This is a work in progress. I find new (at least to me) words and phrases nearly every day. Some would be familiar to a specialist. Others are newly coined. No single source Iíve found is comprehensive in this interdisciplinary area. And the web isnít always the best place to find a clear definition.  I particularly recommend the Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, King's Dictionary of Genetics and William Bain's Biotechnology from A to Z, and frequently consult my copies.  (And the Oxford English Dictionary (Second edition and supplements) is a surprisingly fruitful source as well.) A medical dictionary can also be quite helpful.  And Onelook.com is always worth trying.

But there are a number of terms which Iíd be hard-pressed to figure out without the web. Hence the Recommended Search Engines and Databases, free and for fee , as well as the above particularly helpful and extensive resources. 

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