Medpedia Now Includes News & Analysis, Alerts, Q&A


The Medpedia Project is a long-term, worldwide initiative to develop an online collaborative source of health and medical information for medical professionals and the general public. Launched in February 2009, the website currently has 34,100 pages of health and medical content (based on a Google domain search), an increase of over 2-fold since July 2009.

The Medpedia Project recently announced the addition of three new tools for sharing and advancing medical knowledge [2]. The services complement Medpedia’s reliable crowdsourcing of health and medical information.

Medpedia: Reliable Crowdsourcing of Health and Medical Information

According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61% of adults look online for health information [1]. Surprisingly however, three-quarters of those searching don’t consistently check the source and date of the health reference they find [2]. Indeed, searching for health information online is dangerous and finding credible, up-to-date sources of health information can be a challenge.

Wikipedia is the Web’s most popular free online encyclopedia. If you’ve ever searched for health or medical content online, Wikipedia articles typically appear at or near the top of search engine results. Nevertheless, Wikipedia’s medical entries are prone to manipulation and are not reliable [3]. Moreover, in many cases you don’t know who has contributed content nor their background or expertise.

Wisdom of crowds is the new model for innovation on the Internet in which collective knowledge is thought to be superior to the intelligence of the few. Nevertheless, not all crowds are wise. Recent cases and new research suggests that crowdsourcing is only truly successful when it is focused on a specific task and when the most effective collaborators are involved [4].

Enter Medpedia.


The Medpedia Project is a long-term, worldwide initiative to develop an online collaborative source of health and medical information for medical professionals and the general public. A joint effort with Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, Berkeley School of Public Health, University of Michigan Medical School and other global health organizations, the intent of Medpedia is to be a repository of up-to-date unbiased medical information, contributed and maintained by health experts around the world and freely available to the general public. Unlike Wikipedia, which allows anyone to modify pages, Medpedia content creators and editors are required to have an M.D., D.O. or Ph.D. in a biomedical field; each contributor has an author page detailing their qualifications and background.

Top Health Search Engines of 2008

Mednar and GoPubMed have been voted Top Health Search Engines of 2008 by two independent measures.

Mednar is a federated search engine designed to quickly access information from a multitude of credible sources. Federated search is a new way to comprehensively search multiple databases in real time, ensuring a superior level of search results by ignoring outdated articles, irrelavant research and spam. Mednar offers several tools to narrow searches, drill down into topics and discover new information sources.

GoPubMed is a knowledge-based search engine for the life sciences and is based on PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 18 million citations from MEDLINE, the world’s most comprehensive source of life sciences and biomedical bibliographic information, and other life science journals for biomedical articles dating back to 1948. Once keywords are submitted to PubMed, the resulting abstracts are classified using Gene Ontology (a hierarchical vocabulary for molecular biology covering cellular components, biological processes and molecular functions) and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), a hierarchical vocabulary covering biomedical and health-related topics. Quite simply, GoPubMed enables users to find more relevant information significantly faster.

Review of Mednar Search

This article was written by Hope Leman.

Mednar is here and it is good. Check it out medical librarians, public library staff, academic librarians who do life science searches, busy front-line clinicians, clinical researchers, medical school faculty, power searchers generally in the health sciences and anybody, indeed, who wants quick, authoritative results in health searching. Yet another impressive achievement of the firm Deep Web Technologies, which already has a stellar record of achievement providing the underlying technology of,, and the brand new Biznar, a free, publicly available business research site. Check that one out, too.

Why is the firm called Deep Web Technologies and what is federated search, which is its specialty? Federated search is simply the capacity to search several online resources at the same time. The Deep Web is also called “The Invisible Web” and consists of gray literature and similar hard-to find content, such as heavy duty science and medical databases that the average search engines don’t tend to provide results from. That is where Deep Web Technologies comes in. Professional societies and the big players in federally-funded science search rely on it. It delivers sleek, elegant interfaces and solid search results. I like its stuff a lot. That is why I am up at 4:23 a.m. playing with it rather than sleeping before I have to get ready for my day job at around 7 a.m. Good technology should be exciting and something that compels you to get out of bed to go seek information about subjects you care about. Therefore, scientists, medical people and people who are ill or who love someone who is driven to seek information should take a spin in Mednar and the other products of Deep Web Technologies. They are the must-have tools of today and tomorrow.

Okay, enough rhapsodizing (couldn’t help it — it is that good). Why do I like Mednar so much?

Well, as someone who works in a medical library and spends many happy hours working in the kingdom of medical search tools, PubMed, I am always interested in seeing what else is out there in health sciences search. One thing I liked right away about Mednar was how it easy it was to set up an email alert on the latest results on my subject of choice, in this case my consuming interest amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I have been receiving daily updates of the latest research on that subject from Mednar and they are quite fascinating. Now that might some strike some as not particularly novel or exciting (think Google Alerts), but it is really surprising how few options one has in terms of current awareness of authoritative (where Google falls down) daily bulletins and it never hurts to supplement the services one can get from PubMed. The one glitch in the email alerts is that when I click on some of the options I am taken to the log-in page of a resource I may not subscribe to. But at least I get the title to work with and can use other avenues to learn more about an article I might never have learned about otherwise. And if you follow a rare disease or even a common one that is making your life miserable, you don’t want to run the risk of missing out on key developments.

In that regard, Mednar is an extremely useful complement to PubMed in that there is a lag time before the very latest articles get into PubMed. Everything is vetted to the nth degree before it enters the hallowed halls of PubMed and while that is desirable and necessary, it also prevents timely notice of interesting developments or awareness of perhaps ultimately insignificant but nonetheless interesting, thought-provoking developments. By contrast, Mednar include among its results EurekAlerts and identifies them by the institution (e.g. Brandeis University) or organization (e.g. the American Academy of Neurology) that the press release concerned is discussing so that you don’t click on something of little interest. That’s an excellent way to monitor where the centers of research activity are in certain medical conditions and an easy method of keeping up in an engaging, entertaining way on what is happening now instead of waiting for a meta-analysis to appear in PubMed two years hence. You can learn a lot from press releases. For instance, in my search through the EurekAlerts in my search on ALS I came across this result about a touching article in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, something I might not have encountered otherwise. What I want from a search engine is for it to tell me something I don’t already know or that I would not have learned about from one of its rivals. Mednar does all of that.

Additionally, Mednar provides results by author, which enables users to quickly determine who seems to be the leading authority in a given field or at least someone who has published quite a bit in it.

Mednar also is a forgiving, patient envirnoment. For instance, I tried “proteomics in nephrology” but that resulted in much extraneous stuff. I then tried just “proteomics nephrology” and got tons of useful material. That is the mark of a good search engine. If you bumble and fumble and get nothing, trying different wording improves matters. Mednar definitely is on its way to becoming an outstanding launch pad for medical subject searching and it easy to see why frugal but astute purchases of services for government scientific agencies, demanding overseers of the databases of scientific societies and university libraries turn to Deep Web Technologies for prowess in search technology. Those are not easy audiences to win over and it has consistently done that. This is the state-of-the-art stuff, folks.

I wish had the brains of its CEO, Abe Lederman. I am in jaw-dropping, stupefied awe at the general excellence of the products of his firm. Anything that saves all of us time as we hunt for relevant data amidst overwhelming amounts of information on every conceivable aspect of disease day after day catches my attention and it has been caught today by Mednar. It searches many databases that PubMed and NLM Gateway do not, let alone other commercial search engines. That alone is a public service and I fondly hope that Elsevier and Springer and the other sci-tech publishers will start to see the value in working with innovative superstars in search and enlist them to render their superb content searchable. My wallet is open to good stuff in the sciences if I can find it and Mednar helps me find it. It is up to the sci-tech publishers to decide if they want to find eager, paying consumers of their content by working with Mednar. In the meantime, Mednar is educating us all about databases that we didn’t even know existed. Edifying those of us who like to think we know everything is noble work.

About the author: Hope Leman is a research information technologist for a health network in Oregon and is also Web administrator of the grants and scholarship listing service ScanGrants.

Additional health search resources are listed in the Highlight HEALTH Web Directory.

Health Search and the Semantic Web

Before it gets too far behind us, I wanted to write briefly about the Health 2.0 Conference, which was held in San Francisco on October 22 and 23rd. The Health 2.0 Conference focuses on the application of Web 2.0 technologies to the fields of medicine and healthcare. Specifically, I wanted to comment on health search, the semantic web and the demonstration of the health 2.0 service iMedix.

Search engines today rely extensively on keywords. However, with health-related searches, context or meaning takes on great importance. Consider this: a study earlier this summer found that simply replacing the search term “vaccine safety” with “vaccine danger” replaced virtually all accurate search results (out of the first 20) with inaccurate results [1]. Granted, there are several limitations to the study (small sample size, controversial topic), but it nonetheless illustrates how a single keyword can dramatically alter search results.