Open Questions: Health and Medicine

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Causes of aging
The immune system
Infectious diseases
Avian flu
Immune system disorders
Neurodegenerative diseases
The cardiovascular system
Diet, metabolism, and health

Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books


Some day, progress in medical science, based on discoveries made so recently about the content of the human genome, will enable extension of the normal human life span to 150 years or more, right?

No, not necessarily. In fact, the bad news (perhaps) is that such an extension is probably not likely any time soon.

However, the good news is that medical science may have something better to offer in the next 20 to 40 years.

"Aging" is not a disease, at least one not like any other. It is not at all clear we will be able to extend the normal human life span much beyond the currently known outer limits of, say, 110 years or so. At least not in the small portion of the future we can reasonably predict.

What may be possible in the relatively near future that is better is that the quality of life in older age may be much improved.

Would you really want to live to be 110 if for the last 20 or 30 years of life you suffered from arthritis, deafness, dementia, diabetes, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, strokes, or any of the other common degenerative diseases of old age?

Probably not.

It is conditions like these which medical science may become increasingly good at dealing with in the next 10-20 years. Yes, being able to prevent or cure cancer and heart disease will be a most welcome accomplishment, but only if it's possible to deal with all these other afflictions as well.

Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes

WWW Virtual Library: Medicine and Health
Categorized and annotated links. Part of the WWW Virtual Library.
Martindale's Reference Desk: Bioscience & Biotechnology
Extensive, annotated list of links, unfortunately all on one large page.
Galaxy: Health
Categorized site directory. Entries usually include descriptive annotations.
Galaxy: Medicine
Categorized site directory. Entries usually include descriptive annotations.
Galaxy: Human Biology
Categorized site directory. Entries usually include descriptive annotations.
A "scholarly internet resource collection" for biological, agricultural, and medical sciences.

Sites with general resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Home page of the U. S. government agency in the Department of Health and Human Services that has responsibility for public health. The site contains a vast amount of information on most scientific topics related to human health and medicine, as well as information on specific diseases and health problems.
United States National Library of Medicine
Operated by the U. S. National Institutes of Health, the NLM is billed as "the world's largest medical library". Resources it provides include PubMed (an index of biomedical journal literature), MedlinePlus (health and drug information for the general public), and (a directory of ongoing clinical trials of drug and treatment studies).
A service of the U. S. National Library of Medicine that provides health and medical information for the general public. Resources at the site include overviews of over 700 health and medical topics, information on drugs and dietary supplements, a medical encyclopedia, a medical dictionary, and current health news.
A service of the U. S. National Library of Medicine, provides access to over 11 million citations from MEDLINE and additional life science journals. PubMed includes links to many sites providing full text articles and other related resources.
Bio Online
Commercial site with emphasis on biotechnology, pharmaceutical research, and health sciences.
The Scientist
"The News Journal for the Life Scientist". Free access allowed with registration.
THE Medical Biochemistry Page
An outstanding site in general, by Michael W. King. Contains detailed information on many subjects, such as metabolism, proteins, amino acids, cytokines, neurotransmitters, sugars, enzymes, and hormones.
The site is really about biology and biochemistry in general, not just biotechnology. Principal resources include a searchable life science dictionary, information on bioinformatics, and external links to life science and chemistry resources.
"The Life Science Home Page". Contains a variety of resources, such as external links, patent information, meeting announcements, career aids, and discussion forums.
Yahoo News Full Coverage: Health
Links to recent news stories from various sources. Also includes links to sites dealing with health and medicine.
A portal to relevant Nature Publishing Group resouces in the field of medical research.

Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Category: Medicine
Topic category from Wikipedia.
Article from Wikipedia. See also Health science, Disease.
Genes and Disease
Extensive online reference -- "a collection of articles that discuss genes and the diseases that they cause." Index. Part of the NCBI Bookshelf.

Ask an expert

Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Ask a Scientist
Great resource that allows you to ask scientists questions about biology by email. The site has an archive of questions already answered, in area such as developmental biology, immunology, molecular biology, genetics, and neuroscience. Operated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
ScienceNet: Biology and Medical Science
This is the archive of answered questions in biology from the excellent ScienceNet site. It's organized by subfield and many of the questions/answers are quite sophisticated.
Scientific American Ask The Experts: Medicine
Questions and answers on many different topics in medicine. Most of the articles also have useful external links.

Online books and lecture notes

MIT OpenCourseWare: Health Sciences and Technology
Course materials provided by the MIT OpenCourseWare project. New courses are continually added. Detailed lecture notes and additional materials such as problem sets are provided for some, but not all, courses.

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

In Silico Medicine
Damaris Christensen
Science Week, December 14, 2002, pp. 378-380
Computer simulations of medical and biological systems from interacting molecules to cells, organ systems, and health care systems is playing an increasingly important role in medical research.
Evolution and the Origins of Disease
Randolph M. Nesse; George C. Williams
Scientific American, November 1998, pp. 86-93
As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Accordingly, evolutionary considerations can help us understand the seemingly disparate types and causes of disease.

Recommended references: Books


Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved