Sites of interest on the World Wide Web—edited by David Roman

Chemical Forums – Q&A’s and Chemical Resources


In time spent searching the net for a particular piece of chemical information, sometimes finding the right starting place is the toughest and even worse, information may not be readily available to answer your straightforward question. While listservs are useful, if somewhat dated, a newer iteration of the idea has become available. Chemical Forums ( offer the curious, from a wide range of educational levels, a way to ask (and answer) chemical queries from General, Analytical, Organic, and Physical Chemistry, with specialized sections on Radiochemistry, Chemical Biology, Education and Chemical Engineering. And the forums are strikingly active. On the day I visited, over 300 people had accessed the board covering a rather specialized subject matter. In addition to the forums, which can be a lot of fun, the Web site also offers a variety of unique tools and calculators. For instance, there are pKa tables for aqueous and DMSO solutions, Ka value tables, tables of physical constants (who remembers the Rydberg constant offhand?) and a very comprehensive list of chemical structures, including many drug molecules. Another set of resources is the job board, which seems to be well populated with company job postings and CVs. This is a fun site to browse and a good venue for asking and answering chemistry questions!

MIT Open Courseware – An Amazing Educational Resource


From time to time, the Internet lives up to its promise of education for all, and the MIT Open Courseware ( site is definitely among the top in my book. This treasure chest of great information is based at the storied Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is organized very efficiently. This open courseware site is a free repository of many of MIT’s courses. Browsing through the biology and chemistry departments, there are full sets of course material, including syllabi, lecture notes, problem sets, presentations, recommended reading lists, and even exam problems. Some of the courses offer basic introductions to a discipline, like General Chemistry or General Biology. Others are much more specialized, such as lectures on G protein–coupled receptors: Vision and disease. Another offering is on DNA Damage Checkpoints: The Emergency Brake on the Road to Cancer. No matter which side of the teacher’s desk you are on, there’s something here for you from ideas for a new graduate level course to study materials for the latest Neurobiology final. The courses are rich with primary literature references, great slides, and top-notch scientific graphics. The site also deserves top marks for organizing large amounts of information for quick and easy access. The MIT Open Courseware is definitely worth your time!

iTunes University – Something a little different


Since the advent of the Internet and the iPod, the multimedia PodCast format has become extremely popular. Downloadable audio snippets have evolved into something much grander, and Apple Computer has created a niche for the biomedically inclined through its iTunes program. Although not a Web site per se, the iTunes University is accessible to PC and Mac computers, the only requirement being the iTunes software, which is freely available from You can access iTunes University from the iTunes store, and check out online course offerings from quite a few universities, including Stanford and Duke, as well as individual educational downloads from popular press sources such as National Public Radio. Perhaps most striking, the format of these course materials includes audio, and the PodCasts can either be viewed and listened to on a computer or downloaded to an iPod for later listening on the go. One series of lectures, from Duke University, focuses on the topic featured on the cover of this issue of Molecular Interventions. The twelve-lecture series, entitled Addressing Diabesity: The Role of Business in Confronting an Epidemic, includes presentations from health care and food industry experts on what business is doing about the growing epidemic of obesity. In addition, iTunes University can serve as a host for recording course lectures, which can be a great service for distance learners and others who wish to review lecture materials before exams.

More Obesity


Both the public and researchers can benefit from an offering of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Weight Control Information Network, or WIN, ( Publications are available with nutritional information, exercise programs, current treatment options, as well as in-depth statistics for weight-related health complications. In addition, the NIDDK supports a National Diabetes Clearinghouse of Information (, an overview of the disease, complications, and treatments for a lay-audience, and also a literature resource for clinicians.

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