Dictionary of Modern Medicine database pipeline
The reader can rightly assume a project that germinated in the mid-1970s; saw incipient flesh in the 1980s and the first light of day in print in the 1990s, was converted in part to eBooks in the 2000s, and has settled into its final (database) format in the 2010s has undergone a number of major changes.
The first release of the Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD) for user consumption (version 1, v.1) had 38,000 definitions and another 42,000 (estimated) searchable terms, for a total of 80,000 terms. At the time, late 2017, I was convinced that the DMMD could be best grown by focusing on specific blocks of information–e.g., abbreviations and acronyms; alternative medicine; British medicine and so on, based on the belief that users would download the “block” of interest. At the time, the DMMD had 6 blocks:
(1) Dictionary of Alternative and Complementary Medicine I wrote the first edition of this project 20 years ago and published it with Simon & Schuster, then updated it 7 years ago and put it out as an eBook (Kindle, iBook, Nook) product. This is the 3rd edition and written entirely from the evidence-based perspective. Most of alternative management strategies quite frankly don’t work; many are premised on pseudoscience, pseudotherapy and lunacy. Because the target audience of this work is mainstream medical practitioners, I feel it best to call the proverbial spade a spade. The reader will note that many of the definitions are labelled “Quackery”, which indicates the belief that the modality being defined is a departure from medical reality. The adjective “Fringe” is used when the modality might have a whisper of validity…I tried to be generous in this regard. I’ve removed the word “medicine” from many of the entries and replaced it with “health”, as medicine implies legitimacy which is largely lacking in these modalities.
(2) Dictionary of British Medicine I wrote this project 7 years ago and published it as an eBook (Kindle, iBook, Nook). It contains definitions related to the bureaucracy of medical practice in the UK, in particular, as relates to the NHS, training, bed availability, waiting lists and as many scandals, bad actors and faux pas as necessary without overdoing it.
(3) Dictionary of Sexology The goal with this work was to produce something that wasn’t silly or salacious, using language that one uses on patient encounters…whilst keeping a straight face.
(4) Glossary of Suicidology This contains the vocabulary of the what’s, where’s, why’s, how’s, the preceding events, prevention, and post-event mopping-up of the tragedy of terminal self-destruction.
(5) Genes Dictionary v 1 This contains what a physician-lexicographer regards as pertinent information on 7,800 genes, including what the gene does, what diseases occur when the gene misbehaves, the synonyms/aliases and hot links to other databases. Because there are over 20,000 genes in the human genome, revisions and additions make this an evolving and ongoing project. If I’ve missed one of your favourite genes, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
(6) Dictionary of Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms (A&As) This self-explanatory block of information contains 20,000 A&As. It was compiled from the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, BMJ, Lancet, the OMIM, Genescards, the UniProt and other peer-reviewed sources.
Version 1 has been available for downloading for months. Given the relatively small number of downloads, I’ll concede that Kent Hummel, my webmaster and database guru was right: people don’t want to “own” a dictionary, they want facile access to definitions.
This has forced a rethink on how to best continue growing this resource. The DMMD is the “go to” source for efficient definitions in the above 6 areas. I’ll continue to expand the Genes–v.2 has 12,200 genes (up from 7,800 in v.1) and we’re adding v.1 of inherited diseases, which has 2,300 syndromes, diseases and –opathies. For the short term, another 3,800 genes will be added for a total of 16,000, which should include the “important” genes and another 1,700 syndromes for v.3, to be released at the end of 2018. At that point, the DMMD will have about 50,000 definitions and an additional 200,000 searchable terms. To put this number in perspective, The Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the largest single-volume medical lexicon, is now in its 32nd edition (2012) and has 125,000 entries.
It’s hard to project the DMMD’s future direction: Once the number of gene definitions has grown to 16K, and the genetic syndromes to 5K, I’ll switch gears to adding blocks of definitions on Sleep Disorders; Evidence-Based Medicine, Forensic Medicine, Monoclonal Antibodies. By the end of 2019, I’m hoping to start adding chemical pathology, histopathology, and microbiology, thus expanding into areas covered by traditional medical dictionaries.
Visit often and stay tuned for more.