Exploring Epigenomics

Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute

Epigenomics is the study of the functions and locations of chemical compounds and proteins that modify the genome by influencing gene expression and regulation. DNA methylation and histone modification are examples of these heritable modifications, which are natural processes involved in tissue differentiation and development and can be affected by environmental and lifestyle factors. Thanks to previous research and the ENCODE Project, the technological advances in next generation sequencing have catalyzed data output and created new possibilities for disease treatment. Here we present a few resources to assist researchers with exploring the field of epigenomics. Continue reading

Bringing Rigor and Reproducibility to Research Symposium Wrap-Up

r3logo On September 22, the Health Sciences Library System and Department of Biomedical Informatics hosted the symposium “Bringing Rigor and Reproducibility to Research.” Over 100 people attended to hear the featured speaker, Victoria Stodden, speak about facilitating reproducibility of computational results. She was followed by a panel discussion from Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, PhD, RN, FAAN, Charles Horn, PhD, Janette Lamb, PhD, and Jeremy P. Somers, PhD. After lunch, HSLS librarians provided a “spotlight” session on library and University resources that would help researchers bring rigor and reproducibility to their own research.

An evaluation distributed to attendees after the symposium suggested the information presented at the symposium would make a difference in how they did their research. When asked, in the next six months how likely are you to use information obtained from the symposium, 91% responded positively. Approximately 35% of those answering found the overview of library resources the most helpful.

Specific comments included:

“I am now more aware of the level of detail needed to provide a truly “reproducible” and transparent research.”

“I got a broad view of the subject that widened my perspective.”

“Really liked the panel and the HSLS presentations as they had helpful suggestions.”

If you missed the symposium, you can view Victoria Stodden’s presentation and the slides from the spotlight session at the symposium’s website.

~Nancy Tannery

The Potential of Clinical Trial Data Sharing: the SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge

The New England Journal of Medicine is hosting a challenge to explore the potential of clinical trial data sharing. Individuals and groups are invited to participate in the SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge by analyzing the dataset underlying the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) Research Group’s article and identifying novel scientific or clinical findings that advance medical science.

A Randomized Trial of Intensive versus Standard Blood-Pressure Control,” SPRINT Research Group, New England Journal of Medicine, 373(22): 2103-16, November 26, 2015.

The SPRINT Challenge will have two rounds: a Qualifying Round and a Challenge Round. Participants must complete the Qualifying Round to become eligible to enter the Challenge Round. Details on how to enter, when the data will be released, and information regarding IRB approval and data use agreement requirements, are available at the “How To Enter” website.

Judges will be a group of experts and leaders in clinical research, data analysis and statistics, patient advocacy, and others. After the Challenge Round closes, all submissions will be open to the public for crowdvoting. For more information on the judging and awards, see the FAQs.

Designing Posters with PowerPoint

Designing a poster may seem like a task best suited for a graphic designer, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult! One way to ease the process is to use a program you are already familiar with, such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

slide-size-boxPowerPoint slides can be scaled up to 56 inches in both width and height. In PowerPoint 2013-2016, under the Design tab, click on the Slide Size button and choose Custom Slide Size to set your height and width. If you want a to create a larger poster, such as 3.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide, scale down your dimensions to 28 by 40 inches, and when you have your poster printed, ask for it to be enlarged by 150%.

A well designed poster has good balance between graphics, text, and blank space. Blank space includes margins and the areas between your content. With ample blank space, your poster will look uncluttered, and your audience can better distinguish the order and separation of your poster content.

format-shape-paneYour margins are set by the size and placement of your content areas, which can be found in the Format Shape pane. Right-click on any shape to pull up the Format Shape pane, and select the Size and Properties tab. Use the precise sizing and position options to accurately place your content in a layout. Objects can also be aligned or distributed equally through the Drawing Tools tab.

Graphics help to draw interest to your poster, and charts and figures can show complex information that can be understood quickly. If you don’t have a lot of information for charts and figures, you can still add graphical elements to your poster. From the Insert tab, select SmartArt. Choose from a gallery of diagrams, including List, Process, Cycle, Hierarchy, Relationship, Matrix, and Pyramid. Adding text to these diagrams allows you to convey your research content with added design.


HSLS offers a hands-on workshop, PowerPoint for Conference Posters, which expands your PowerPoint skills for designing posters. For assistance on poster design, contact Julia Dahm, Technology Services Librarian.

~ Julia Dahm

The AccessMedicine App is Now Available

The AccessMedicine App provides evidence-based information at the point of care. The app is available to Pitt and UPMC users through the HSLS subscription to the full AccessMedicine database.


The AccessMedicine App is a subset of the database and includes the following resources:

  • Quick Medical Diagnosis & Treatment (QMDT): a collection of concise evidence-based outlines of conditions and disorders most often encountered in medical practice.
  • Fitzpatrick’s Color Atlas of Clinical Dermatology: provides color images of skin lesions, plus a summary outline of skin disorders and diseases.
  • Diagnosaurus®: a differential diagnosis resource that provides more than 1,000 diagnoses through a McGraw-Hill Medical tool that allows you to browse by symptom, disease, or organ system.
  • Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests: a quick reference guide to the selection and interpretation of commonly used diagnostic tests, including laboratory procedures in the clinical setting.


The app is free to download and is available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch from the Apple iTunes App Store. It requires iOS 7.0 or later. It is also available for Android devices from the Google Play Store and requires Android 4.1 and up.

Getting Started

To access the app, begin by registering for a MyAccess account:

  1. Direct your browser to AccessMedicine.
  2. On the AccessMedicine home page, click on the University of Pittsburgh link in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  3. Select Sign in or Create a Free MyAccess Profile.
  4. Complete the registration form.
  5. On your mobile device, download the AccessMedicine app and log in with your MyAccess username and password.

In order to maintain uninterrupted access, you must log in to your MyAccess account from any on-site Pitt or UPMC computer at least once every 90 days.

For more information, contact the HSLS Main Desk at 412-648-8866 or use Ask a Librarian. For information about other mobile friendly versions of HSLS resources, such as Micromedex or UpToDate, direct your browser to the HSLS Mobile Resources website.

~Jill Foust

Happy 45th Anniversary to MEDLINE!

This year MEDLINE celebrates its 45th anniversary! MEDLINE, which stands for Medical Literature and Retrieval System Online, was launched by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in October 1971. It is the world’s premier biomedical database with 23 million bibliographic references from over 5,600 journals dating back to 1946.

How has MEDLINE changed over the past 45 years? Here’s a few interesting facts:

  • In 1971, MEDLINE required a loud dial-up modem and was fee-based.
    In 2016, MEDLINE is freely available to anyone with access to the Internet.
  • In 1971, there were only 22 users.
    So far in 2016, there have been 601 million unique visitors.
  • By June 1972, there were 70,000 searches.
    So far in 2016, there have been 2.8 billion searches.

NLM created this fun timeline comparing current events to the growth of MEDLINE over the past 45 years.

Courtesy: U.S. National Library of Medicine
Courtesy: U.S. National Library of Medicine

People often search MEDLINE via PubMed, but don’t know what the difference is between them. MEDLINE is the largest subset of PubMed. PubMed also includes links to full-text articles and other types of articles that are considered out-of-scope for MEDLINE, primarily from general sciences and general chemistry journals, as well as other types of information. If you’re interested in learning how to use PubMed, consider taking our one hour hands-on Painless PubMed Workshop.

For more information about this notable anniversary, read “MEDLINE Celebrates Its 45th Anniversary!” in the September-October issue of the NLM Technical Bulletin.

~Jill Foust

HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Kate Flewelling, Health Professions Coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, received a Sewell Stipend from the Public Health/Health Administration Section of the Medical Library Association to attend the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Denver, CO, from October 30–November 2, 2016.


Author names in bold are HSLS-affiliated

M. Dasari, C.B. Wessel, HSLS Head of Research Initiatives, and G.G. Hamad, published “Prophylactic Mesh Placement for Prevention of Incisional Hernia after Open Bariatric Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” in The American Journal of Surgery, 212(4): 615-622, October 2016.

Jonathon Erlen, History of Medicine Librarian, published “Dissertations on or Related to Sigmund Freud” and “Dissertations on or Related to Carl Jung” in History of Psychiatry.

Carrie Iwema, Information Specialist in Molecular Biology, Andrea Ketchum, Research & Instruction Librarian/Scholarly Communication Liaison, and Melissa Ratajeski, Coordinator of Data Management Services, published “Library Support for Data Management Plans” in The Medical Library Association Guide to Data Management for Librarians, edited by Lisa Federer, Chapter 9, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

K. Khurshid, J. Yabes, P.M. Weiss, Research & Instruction Librarian, et al, published “Effect of Antihypertensive Medications on the Severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(8): 1143-51, August 15, 2016.


Author name in bold is HSLS-affiliated

Lydia Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented “Engage for Health: A Health Program in a Box @ Your Library” at the Pennsylvania Library Association in Pocono Manor, PA, on October 17, 2016. Co-presenters included Dana Brigandi, Lauri Fletcher, Barbara Gerhard, and Susan Jeffery.

Poster Presentation

Author name in bold is HSLS-affiliated

Utsav K. Bansal, Cameron Jones, Thomas W. Fuller, Charles Wessel, HSLS Head of Research Initiatives, et al, presented “The Efficacy of Tadalafil Daily Versus On-Demand in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Section of the American Urological Association, in Buffalo, NY, on September 29, 2016.

Classes November 2016

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Prezi, bibliographic management, and molecular biology and genetics. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff, and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, who will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows, who will need to show their UPMC IDs. Continue reading