The beauty of the Web is that information on any subject can be easily obtained without leaving the office or home. Anyone who has used a search engine however understands that searching the Internet for information often leads to the hundreds, perhaps thousands of “hits” and that culling and identifying the most useful sites from so many “hits” is laborious and time consuming.
The goal of the Medical Educator’s Resource Guide is to assemble in one place a list of basic science websites that contributors to the Guide have identified as being useful in the teaching and learning of the basic sciences. In this issue, several basic science educators and medical students offer their perspective and insight into the structure and utility of sites dealing with biochemistry, embryology, hematology, histology, and neuroanatomy.
If you are aware of a site that has the potential for being used by educators and students of the basic sciences, please consider contributing to the Guide. Once published by the journal, the sites and their reviews will be posted in hyperlink form on the IAMSE website under our “Educational Resource” branch.
Please send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the URL and a short critique of between 100 and 200 words.
Atlas of Hematology. Nagoya, Nagasaki and Hamamatsu Schools of Medicine and Kyoto University College of Medical Technology.
This is an extremely good collection of normal and abnormal blood and hematopoietic bone marrow cells as observed in May-Grunewald-Giemsa stained dry film smears. A complete spectrum of hematopoietic diseases is also included. Typically, several examples of a given disease are presented, thereby making the “lesson” useful and effective. Many of the illustrations are unsurpassed in quality for an electronic format. The illustrations of the peripheral blood, variations of erythrocyte morphology and normal bone marrow cells are useful for an entry-level student. Since the images are not labeled or accompanied by explanatory text, the clinical cases are of optimal use only to individuals with experience in hematopoietic morphology. (Reviewed by Chester
A. Glomski, M.D., University at Buffalo)
Blue Histology. The University of Western Australia
Users who visit this site have several options. The backbone of the site “Lectures and Lab Notes” summarizes and illustrates the basic histology of tissues and organs. Since it is designed for local use, the content is course specific. For outsiders, who are looking for ways to evaluate learning at their institutions, this site provides a multiple choice question quiz with crystal clear images of tissue types, cells and organs that download quickly. The user determines the field of study using a quiz engine to hone a certain subject area or test a diverse field of knowledge. The quiz is mostly identification, yet does contain some function and theory questions as well. The site also serves as an atlas as it contains over 370 images of slides that are efficiently organized. There is “VScope” available as well that simulates and explains the use of a microscope with a microscope slide. Links to other histology web sites, mostly belonging to universities, are listed on this Web page. (Reviewed by Brenda C. Boggs, B.S., University at Buffalo)
HemoSurf: An Interactive Atlas of Hematology. University of Bern.
This program offers a comprehensive collection of circulating blood and hematopoietic bone marrow cells as seen in typical Wright’s stained dry film blood and bone marrow smears. It introduces the user to the subtleties of clinical blood and marrow smear interpretation. The task of learning to identify individual cells is divided into three or four exercises. The first presents specific, identified cells. Subsequent formats are challenging and interesting to pursue. One “exercise” allows the viewer to select and display the identity of cells. Conversely, a prompt “correct/wrong answer” may be displayed as the user identifies cells. The number of images is numerous thereby offering many variations of a given cellular line/stage of maturation. Both the novice and the more experienced who wishes to increase their knowledge or test their proficiency in cellular recognition will find HemoSurf useful. (Reviewed by Chester A. Glomski, M.D., University at Buffalo)
Main Histology Index. Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
This site presents a fairly comprehensive collection of 961 images and accompanying text that provide a survey of human cell biology and tissue and organ histology. A uniform screen format is used throughout, making movement through the material very simple. The list of topics permanently occupies a frame on the left of the screen. Movement between topics is as easy as leafing through a text and can be done at any time. General instructions and learning objectives introduce each major topic. All images selected are accompanied by a short explanatory text with highlighted links to test the viewer’s understanding of the material. A series of text images with linked identifications/answers is provided at the end of each major topic for self-testing. This site is a useful adjunct to microscope-based laboratory study and is a source of supplemental images for computer-based laboratory study of cell biology and histology.
(Reviewed by Roberta J. Pentney, Ph.D., University at Buffalo)
Medical Neuroscience. Loyola University Medical Education Network (LUMEN).
This site offers helpful visual aids for learning the cross sectional anatomy of the brainstem, diencephalon, and basal ganglia. There is an abundance of sectioned materials, all of which have pertinent structures labeled with brightly colored overlays on one side of a black and white photomicrograph. The overlays help one to clearly define the areas/structures/fibers that are vaguely defined on stained sections. The authors use frames to squeeze all the necessary information for a particular slide onto one screen. There are four frames for each screen in the atlas. Two of the frames show the specimen: one contains an unlabeled stained specimen, and the other contains the color labeled specimen. Another frame lists the labeled structures and contains some important notes about that particular slide as well as; and a fourth frame has links to other slides in the atlas that offer different views of the labeled structures. In addition to images of the brainstem, there are axial and coronal MRI scans that are fully labeled and a neurovascular tutorial that is excellent but under construction. (Reviewed by Daniel M. Cotter, B.A., University at Buffalo)
Metabolic Pathways of Biochemistry.
This site summarizes all of the major pathways of intermediary metabolism. The material is well organized and presented in neat flow charts that contain both text and molecular formulas (structures). The charts are in full color for ease in following the complexities of the pathways. The site also features an option that allows one to view reactions in 3-D provided one has a newer version of either Netscape or Internet Explorer and a compatible video card. (Reviewed by Christopher M. Foresto, B.A., University at Buffalo)
Microscopic Anatomy. Gold Standard Multimedia.
This site contains several sections, which correspond to subjects taught in the first and second year of medical school. It is a useful resource for students who want to review histology, anatomy, physiology, cross sectional anatomy, immunology, radiology and/or pharmacology. The microscopic anatomy section contains images that can be displayed in two sizes. There is also a self-test that can be taken in either quiz or flash card modes. The quiz tests general histological knowledge using multiple choice questions. While the questions are accompanied by images, they are not directly related to the image. The flash card mode tests the user’s ability to identify structures. Since a choice of answers is not given, the flash card mode is more difficult and therefore helpful in preparing for practical examinations. The site is free (until Aug. 1, 2001) but users must register before accessing materials. Registration is quick and consists of providing your e-mail address and deciding on a user name and password. The site does send out occasional e-mails promoting new sections or improvements to existing sections but these are not very long. (Reviewed by Timothy Pardee, Ph.D., University at Buffalo)
Neuroscience Tutorial. The Washington University School of Medicine.
This site is highly recommended as an introductory guide to the basic sensory and motor pathways of the brain and spinal cord, and the organization of the brainstem, basal ganglia, cerebellum, hypothalamus, and limbic system. The treatment of each topic is concise and the main points are illustrated with uncluttered line drawings and slide specimens that make the practical aspects of the subject easier to grasp. This site is particularly helpful for understanding the details of the trigeminal, somatosensory, and auditory pathways. (Reviewed by Christopher M. Foresto, B.A., University at Buffalo)
Texas Tech Neuro Atlas. Texas Tech University Health Science Centre
This is a great site for testing one’s knowledge of brain and spinal cord structure. It consists of 27 images of spinal cord and brain sections (nearly all myelin stained) and thumbnail diagrams that orient the user to the position of each section and angle of cut relative to the gross structure of the central nervous system. Once an image is chosen for study, the user can roll over the image with a cursor and choose specific regions to identify. The location of tracts and nuclei are outlined but they are not pre-labeled. This is a powerful feature of the application because the user can attempt to identify structures before the identity of the structure is revealed. (Reviewed by Jennifer DelBroccolo, B.A., University at Buffalo)
The Human Brain: Dissections of the Real Brain. Virtual Hospital.
The authors present an extensive collection of central nervous system materials, many of which are in color. The materials include dissected specimens “the nature and quality of which” as pointed out in the introduction “would be virtually impossible for teachers or students to achieve in the teaching lab.” Illustrative materials are labeled and annotated and the positioning of specimens and drawings of the specimens side by side for comparison is effective. A wealth of detailed anatomical information is provided so much so that this site is recommended to more advanced students or those wishing to a review of the neuroanatomy of the brain and spinal cord.
(Reviewed by Harold Brody, M.D., Ph.D., University at Buffalo)
UNSW Embryology. University of New South Wales.
This image intensive site draws on the power of the Internet to integrate several aspects of embryology and reproductive biology, and several informational resources. It is comprehensive and can be used by undergraduates, and professional and graduate students who are involved in studying basic embryology either with or without the benefit of a laboratory experience.
The images of human material are especially valuable considering the paucity of human embryonic material that is available for coursework. Sections on early development and organ systems provide easy access to difficult topics including heart development. Developmental abnormalities are presented with each system that will interest medical students and underscore the need for understanding developmental processes. Another section on animal models describes the development of various tissues, organs, and systems in commonly used animal models, such as the rat. (Reviewed by Cynthia Dlugos, Ph.D., University at Buffalo)