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NLM® Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) for searching PubMed databases

This is a brief guide for using MeSH to search for genetic disorders, conditions, or therapy citations to journal articles cited in PubMed databases

General PubMed Suggestions:

  • Read/Download the Searching PubMed® with MeSH® [PDF] trifold to understand more about how the NLM uses Medical Subject Headings (descriptors) to index articles for better retrieval.
  • Formulate a search using the MeSH Browser for definitions and hierarchical information about MeSH Terms.
  • Use the MeSH PubMed Search Builder as a tool for using NLM Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), subheadings, publication types and entry terms (“controlled vocabulary”). A PubMed Search Builder Tutorial and a PubMed Search Builder YouTube are available.
  • Use MeSH on Demand to automatically identify relevant MeSH terms from text such as an abstract or grant summary.

More suggestions specifically for PubMed searches of genetic and/or genomic topics are:

  • Use the PubMed Clinical Query for Medical Genetics, which is one (quick) way to search PubMed for genetics information. The search for a pre-formulated search using MeSH to find citations pertaining to topics in medical genetics.
  • Use the MeSH Database for genetics/genomics terms, definitions, scope notes, searchable subheadings, MeSH term history, and broader or narrower terms in the MeSH hierarchy of headings to understand the use of each descriptor for searching. PubMed automatically searches a broad term and all the more specific terms under it in the hierarchy (“automatic explosion”) unless you use features to limit. Review the suggested MeSH terms below.
  • Use the name of a particular named disease, disorder or condition if it has a MeSH descriptor and add /genetics. For example, Neoplasms/genetics
  • Use other MeSH subheadings to limit headings by ending a term with / and a [subheading] or [sh] attached. This limits a search to specific aspects of a subject. For example, attach /epidemiology or /ep to ewing sarcoma if you want only articles about the epidemiology of this genetic disorder.

Following are NLM Genetic/Genomic Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms to consider for searching. This is not a comprehensive list of all MeSH descriptors available.

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