Frequently Asked Questions

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Q - What makes our database unique?

A - Our database is a large subset of PubMed® articles relevant to human genetics, but further indexed using a controlled vocabulary.  Our use of standardized terminology is especially helpful for identifying genes and gene variants.  It also allows users to generate their own alphabetical list of subtopics for any given topic, or even more importantly, for combinations of multiple topics.  Sequential, stepwise use of such indexes ("drill-down indexing") allows discovery of otherwise hidden relationships between genes, health conditions, and potential risk modifiers.


Q - Since our database is a subset of PubMed®, what benefits are provided over using PubMed alone?
A -  Besides our lists of "selected recent titles" found via our homepage links (e.g.,, our database provides the following advantages:
   1) Drill-down discovery of otherwise hidden relationships between genes, health conditions, and potential risk modifiers (see online tutorial);
   2) Umbrella topics like Pharmacogenetics or Nutrition, which contain all articles mentioning drugs or diet-related items, respectively, so that when viewing an index, there is less chance of overlooking an important relationship;
   3) Standardized terminology (controlled vocabulary) is helpful for all topics, but especially for both finding genes and gene variants;
   4) Synonyms for many topics are provided in our Indexes, which is helpful for recognizing the alternative terminology used by the various authors;
   5) Grouping of gene variants with their corresponding genes when viewing an Index is extremely helpful, especially for articles mentioning isolated "rs numbers";
   6) All rs numbers cited within PubMed for human gene variants are included in our database (except for newest items pending), and all articles mentioning them in titles or abstracts can be found by creating an Index or a Search using the following umbrella topic:  rs Numbers Cited;
   7) Gene variants testable by direct-to-consumer companies are indicated with a double-asterisk in the Indexes. This is extremely helpful for those who have already been tested, or who may wish to be tested, or for Professionals who may wish to recommend or evaluate such testing;
   8) For Health Conditions, our Indexes indicate with a double-asterisk those topics which represent potential risk modifiers/environmental variables which can, in some cases, modify risks either beneficially or detrimentally. Genes/gene variants which are mentioned are also displayed;
   9) For Risk Modifiers/Environmental Variables, our Indexes indicate which health conditions, and which genes/gene variants are also mentioned;
  10) For Genes/Gene Variants, our Indexes indicate which health conditions, and which risk modifiers/environmental variables are also mentioned. (Note: Genes/gene variants are grouped separately at the bottom of our Indexes.)


Q - What is PubMed®, and how extensive is our subset?
A - PubMed® is the online version of the National Library of Medicine's database of health-related journal articles from around the world (  Our database now contains a genetics-related subset of over 1,500,000 references spanning the years 2000 to the present, with an average of more than 200 articles being added every single day.


Q - What criteria are used to select articles for inclusion in our database?
A - We consider all of the PubMed articles which mention human genes, genetics, polymorphisms, mutations, or gene expression in their titles or abstracts, or in PubMed's own indexing system of MeSH terms (Medical Subject Headings).  This is further augmented by our own proprietary search criteria which includes terms like genomics, epigenetics, nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics, pharmacogenetics, pharmacogenomics, plus many more, including any of the numerous "rs numbers" (reference SNP numbers) for gene variants such as rs8099917, etc.


Q - Is our database competing with PubMed for users?
A - As explained in the answer to the first question above, the database is a subset of PubMed, but further indexed using a controlled vocabulary. Therefore, we are not trying to replace PubMed; we're only trying to enhance PubMed's usefulness by supplying a convenient means to leverage our use of standardized terminology, which is especially helpful when it comes to genes and gene variants. Our database should be considered an auxiliary tool; note that the article titles in our database all serve as links back to their corresponding PubMed records.


Q - How current is our subset of PubMed?
A - We seek to keep our database as current as is practicable, especially for gene variants (and related subtopics) that are frequently mentioned in PubMed. For instance, we place a high priority on adding to our database any PubMed record that mentions an "rs number" (reference SNP numbers for gene variants) in its title or abstract, like rs8099917 among thousands of others. We then immediately index each of these article references in our database as being relevant to the following umbrella topic: rs Numbers Cited (as previously described in the second question above).  More specific indexing follows. Because we use standardized terminology for indexing the articles, we're constantly adding new topics, or enhancing the indexing for existing ones, including deeper searches and addition of cross-referencing for variations in terminology. We also gladly enhance our database, including the addition of new topics, in response to requests from our users (contact us:

Q - Is it a simple process to index for gene variants within our database?
A - Indexing for certain rs numbers like rs8099917 is straightforward because there are essentially no synonyms for this particular variant in PubMed. In sharp contrast, for rs numbers like rs1801133 the indexing process is more complicated because there are multiple synonyms that must be taken into consideration, and all searched and combined in order to identify all of the relevant PubMed records. Even so, for rs1801133 (more commonly known as the MTHFR 677C-T variant), priority is given to its updating because it is one of the most commonly mentioned variants in PubMed, with over 4,500 records mentioning one of its synonyms in the record title or abstract. 


Q - Search results show the article titles, but can the journal citations and the PubMed ID numbers also be displayed?
A - Yes; to display the complete citations, including the journal name, the volume/page, and PubMed ID number (PMID), simply click on "View Printer-Friendly Version" for "Search" results, located just below the Go button.


Q - Many of the citations in our database are marked as "Free."  How can these be downloaded?
A - Click on the journal title, which takes you to PubMed. Click on the link found there which says "Free," or on the link to the publisher's website.


Q - How can an article copy be obtained if it's not free?
A – You can request an "inter-library loan" through your local reference librarian, or you can click on one of the links found on the article's PubMed page, and purchase a copy online.


Q - What percentage of the articles cited in our database are available as free downloads?
A - Overall, more than 30% of all of the articles cited in our database are available as free PDF downloads (more than 300,000 free articles total).


Q - Can search results be limited to only those articles for which free downloads are available?
A - Yes, this can be done by using "Free" (but without the quotation marks) as one of the topics of your Search (but not for an Index). This can be helpful when looking for general background information, but otherwise you'll be missing many potentially important articles.

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