Library reopen

The Library has reopened on schedule after being closed for painting on the weekend (sorry – the painting was behind the temporary walls, so you won't see any dramatic changes!). There is a bit of a lingering paint smell, but it's dissipating fast and, unless you are especially sensitive to that kind of thing, it shouldn't cause you any problems if you drop by the Library today to study or do some research.

Trial – Human Gene Mutation Database

Hgmd The Library's investigating a subscription to the Human Gene Mutation Database. HGMD pulls information from the literature about disease-causing mutations and disease-associated or functional polymorphisms for searching and display . You can use HGMD to find lists of disease-causing mutations within specific genes; lists of mutations that are known to cause specific diseases; lists of mutations of a certain type (e.g. A-C substitutions, microdeletions, etc.) in a certain gene or group of genes, or that cause a certain disease; and more. A trial is available until Friday, April 10 at – follow the link to HGMD (you must be on campus for this to work).

An older (about 3 years behind) version of the database is free for academic users; the most recent data is available at considerable cost. To judge whether there is enough interest to warrant the expense of a subscription, we’d like to hear your answers to any or all of the following questions:

Would the up-to-date (paid) version of HGMD be useful to your research?

Would it be substantially better than other resources that provide some of the same information (e.g. Entrez Gene, OMIM, the public version of HGMD)?

Does your lab already have a current subscription to HGMD? If so, it would be very useful for us to know which lab you are in, and how many researchers there are in your lab.

Please direct any feedback you have to Tina O’Grady,, 212-241-3990 (x43990). Thanks!

Library will be closed this weekend: 3/28 and 3/29

Paint As those of you that visit the library know, the library renovation is progressing – thanks for bearing with us! Taking advantage of the first and second year medical student spring break, the library will be closed on Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29th, so that the remaining shelves on the 11th floor can be painted.

As always, the library’s online resources and Ask a Librarian email service will be available during this time.

Harvard History of Medicine Site

Image1 If you are interested in a broad summary of medical concepts and catastrophes of the past by topic or just want browse for odd tidbits about our medical forefathers, "Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics” is a good place to start.  In January Harvard launched this new collection of digital images in the history of epidemiology and infectious disease.  "Contagion” includes more than 500,000 pages of digitized books, serials, pamphlets, incunabula, and manuscripts and contributes to the understanding of the global, social history, and public policy implications of disease.  It also offers important historical perspectives on the science and the public policy of epidemiology today.  The website,, contains historical documents on a myriad of topics including the 19th Century Cholera Epidemics; The Great Plague of London, 1665; The Boston Smallpox Epidemic, 1721; Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918-1919; Syphilis, 1494-1923; Tropical Diseases and the Construction of the Panama Canal, 1904-1914; Tuberculosis in Europe and North America, 1800-1922; The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793; as well as general materials on people of note.  E. Du Rocher

Libraries, libraries everywhere!

library logoOccasionally we hear from some of you who are looking for things like works of literature or fiction, language learning materials, books on tape or other things that would be useful to you in your work or personal life but that we don't have in our collection. We do have a browse-worthy, though kind of small, Leisure Reading collection, and a few useful books like Say it in Spanish: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, but because we focus on science and health care, our collection outside of these areas is limited. But, there are lots of other ways to make sure those needs are met – one of my favorite resources is the abundance of public libraries available to us in the city. Just a few blocks away, well within lunch-break stroll-able distance for most of us, is the 96th Street branch of the New York Public Library. Anyone who lives, works, pays property taxes, or attends school in New York is eligible for a library card, and once you're set up with a card you can not only borrow books, CDs and DVDs from the 96th St. branch, but have them sent there from other NYPL branches around the city. This means a pretty incredible collection of books, music, movies and lots more available to you, for free, just a few blocks away.

“Have you or a family member ever been diagnosed with mesothelioma?…”

Every once in a while you see a television commercial paid for by a law firm asking victims of mesothelioma to call a toll free number to participate in a class action law suit. This practice, more prevalent in the 1980s and 90s, is an unintentional consequence of the pioneering work of a Mount Sinai doctor, Irving J. Selikoff. Forty-five years ago he co-authored the paper, “Asbestos Exposure and Neoplasia,” along with his associates E. Cuyler Hammond and Jacob Churg. Eventually, Selikoff and his colleagues linked asbestos exposure to mesothelioma and other diseases. In addition to his research Dr. Selikoff also educated workers and other members of the public to the dangers of asbestos and other environmental hazards. His influence was great. Selikoff’s testimony helped lay the foundation for the establishment of the 1970s Occupational Safety and Health Act, Workers' Compensation reforms, the 1989 Environmental Protection Agency limitations on asbestos use, and inspired investigation into the ill effects of other commonplace environmental and industrial hazards. Due to legislation, litigation, and abatement, asbestos disease is less common in the United States today. Unfortunately, asbestos products are still widespread in developing countries and the treatment of asbestos-related disease will continue to be relevant outside of the United States for years to come. – E. Du Rocher

Impact Factors and more


The Impact Factor, a metric that the Institute for Scientific Information (now Thomson-Reuters) calculates for select journals based on numbers of recent citations to articles, is as important in modern academia as it is controversial. The Impact Factors of journals a researcher publishes in may be used, with varying degrees of weight, in decisions about promotions, tenure, green card applications and more. Critics argue that the metric can oversimplify the complexity of scholarly research and publishing and present a skewed view of what topics and journals are influential. ISI has recently provided some additions to Journal Citation Reports, the database used to find Impact Factors, to provide more information and context for the metric. New features allow the user to find a 5-year journal Impact Factor as well as the standard 2-year Impact Factor. The effects of self-citations can be seen by removing them from the calculation, and a box plot can be displayed indicating how a particular journal's Impact Factor stacks up against others in the same field. Also provided are Eigenfactor scores, a more complicated metric produced by researchers at the University of Washington. Go to Journal Citation Reports to see the new features, and take a look at some of the sources below if you're interested in learning more about the Impact Factor, the controversy, and other measures of scholarly influence.


Pendlebury, DA. The use and misuse of journal metrics and other citation indicators. Arch. Immunol. Ther. Exp. 2009;75:1-11. (PMID 19219526)

Garfield, E. The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. JAMA. 2006;295:90-93.

And more


Free Videos from NIH

The National Institutes of Health host frequent events at their campus in Bethesda MD, many of which are open to external researchers and the public – if you can get to Bethesda. But they're also extending their reach far beyond the Beltway by posting video and audio files of hundreds of events and seminars on the web. The NIH VideoCasting and Podcasting page lists them by date and by topic. Browse through a wide variety of lectures from "Translational Studies on the Met Tyrosine Kinase Receptor System in the Autisms" to "The Science of Failure in Medicine" to "Preparing for Grant e-submission: a Tutorial for Postdocs", and many more. You can download them individually to view with QuickTime, or subscribe to them via iTunes or RSS.

NetAnatomy Now Available

The Library has added the popular online anatomy resource, NetAnatomy to our database collection. This interactive human anatomy resource uses images, labels, descriptions and quizzes to teach radiographic, cross-sectional and gross anatomy.  It's designed to teach human anatomy to medical students, nurses and others in the health sciences. 

Access NetAnatomy by clicking Databases on the library's home page. NetAnatomy is listed under the category Clinical Sciences.

Polio: Never Really Gone

Polio There was an item in the newspaper the other day about a new polio case that was found in Uganda. Today it is hard to imagine the impact polio had on people’s lives around the world, up to a short fifty years ago. But we should never forget, because clearly, the threat of this disease is not really gone. 

To get a sense of what having polio can mean, please visit the website of The Science Museum. The address is: On the homepage is a link to an online exhibit about the iron lung, a breathing apparatus that allowed millions of people to live with polio.  For the full impact, make sure the sound on your computer is turned on and let the page stay open for a while.  That is one of the sounds of polio.

I have to note that that sound was also a part of The Mount Sinai Hospital for many years.  Mount Sinai opened the first polio center in New York City in 1953, the Jack Martin Polio Respirator Center. It closed in 1960 when the success of the Salk and then Sabin vaccines made it obsolete.  The image here shows Dr. Avron Y. Sweet, Director of the Center, talking with two nurses on the unit.