Science has never been the whole story. There has always also been an art of medicine… Today, doctors are encouraged… to listen carefully to their patients and to treat them with empathy and compassion. The Hippocratics had as one of their goals, ‘Always to aid, or at least do no harm.’ This injunction, too rarely achieved in medicine’s long past, does surface occasionally as we see doctors striving to understand why epidemics occur, or how it is that what we eat and drink, or whether we smoke or not, has implications for our life chances. Along with the big science and high technology, we need these human qualities in medicine.
— William and Helen Bynum, Great Discoveries in Medicine

Medicine: the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. (OxfordMed) Practices and procedures used for the prevention, treatment, or relief of symptoms of diseases or abnormal conditions. The art and science of studying, performing research on, preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease, as well as the maintenance of health. (MeSH)

Medicine’s knowledge base has always involved understanding how the body works and how this is compromised in disease. (Bynum, 11) Modern medicine is surrounded by technology. Instruments and machines are everywhere to be seen in hospitals, health centers and even in the bags doctors carry. Instruments dictate what doctors can do and know. (Bynum, 105) This term may also refer to a legal drug used for the same purpose. (NCIt)


Anesthetics: substances that cause loss of feeling or awareness. 'Local anesthetics' cause loss of feeling in a part of the body. 'General anesthetics' put the person to sleep. (NCIt) Agents that are capable of inducing a total or partial loss of sensation, especially tactile sensation and “pain.” They may act to induce general anesthesia, in which an unconscious state is achieved, or may act locally to induce numbness or lack of sensation at a targeted site. (MeSH)

Biological Markers: measurable and quantifiable biological parameters (e.g., specific “enzyme”  concentration, specific “hormone” concentration, and ... “phenotype” distribution in a “population”). Biological substances which serve as indices for health- and physiology-related assessments, such as disease “risk,” ("behavioral disorders,”) environmental exposure and its effects, disease diagnosis, “metabolic” processes, substance abuse, “pregnancy,” cell ... development, “epidemiology” studies, etc. (MeSH) Also referred to as ‘biomarkers.’

Blood Pressure: the force of circulating “blood” on the walls of the “arteries.” Blood pressure is taken using two measurements: ‘systolic’ and ‘diastolic.’  Blood pressure is written with the systolic blood pressure first, followed by the diastolic blood pressure (for example 120/80). (NCIt) Normal blood pressure is when the top number (systolic blood pressure) is below 120 most of the time, and the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is below 80 most of the time (written as 120/80 mmHg). (MeSH)

Diastolic Blood Pressure: the blood pressure after the contraction of the heart while the chambers of the heart refill with blood. Measured between heart beats, when blood pressure is at its lowest. (NCIt)

Systolic Blood Pressure: the blood pressure during the contraction of the left ventricle of the heart. Measured when the heart beats, when blood pressure is at its highest. (NCIt) The contraction of the heart is called 'systole' and pumps the blood onwards, and its relaxation is 'diastole' when the blood flows into the chambers of heart. The systolic blood pressure is thus the maximum that occurs at the end of a systole. (Bynum, 293)

Clinical: relating to the examination and treatment of patients dependent on direct observation. The term may also refer to the institution (‘clinic’) providing this activity. (NCIt)

Diagnosis: the process of using displayed “symptoms” to identify a “disorder.” (Bamford, 10/25/10) The investigation, analysis and recognition of the presence and nature of disease, condition, or injury from expressed signs and symptoms; also, the scientific determination of any kind; the concise results of such an investigation. (NCIt) Mental health professionals focus more on the pattern of symptoms shown by the client, rather than attempting to categorize them into one distinct disorder. (Cardwell, 74) Adjective - ‘diagnostic.’

Diagnostic Tests: procedures, such as laboratory tests and “X-rays,” routinely performed on all individuals or specified categories of individuals in a specified situation, e.g., patients being admitted to the hospital. These include routine tests administered to (infants). (MeSH)

Disease Screening: checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Since screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease. Screening can also include checking for a person's risk of developing an inherited disease by doing a "genetic test." (NCIt)

Cancer Screening: methods to identify and characterize cancer in the early stages of disease and predict tumor behavior. (MeSH) Clinical testing designed to identify the presence of a specific cancer in an asymptomatic (without symptoms) individual or population thought to be at risk of that specific cancer. The intent is to find cancers at the earliest possible stage in their development, in order to improve the chances for disease cure. Examples of cancer screening tests are the mammogram (breast), colonoscopy (colon), pap smear (cervix), and PSA blood level (prostate). (NCIt)

Screening Study: clinical studies testing the efficacy of devices, techniques, procedures, or tests for the purpose of detecting the presence of disease, usually before there are any symptoms. (NCIt)

Trial Screening: a period in a clinical study during which subjects are evaluated for participation in the study. (NCIt)

Endemic: the constant presence of diseases or infectious agents within a given geographic area or population group. It may also refer to the usual "prevalence" of a given disease within such area or group. (MeSH)

Holoendemic: a disease for which a high prevalent level of infection begins early in life and affects most of the child population, leading to a state of equilibrium such that the adult population shows evidence of the disease much less commonly than do children. For example, 'malaria' in many communities is a holoendemic disease. (MeSH) 

Hyperendemic: a disease that is constantly present at a high incidence and/or prevalence rate and affects all groups equally. (MeSH)

Epidemic: sudden outbreak of a disease in a country or region not previously recognized in that area, or a rapid increase in the number of new cases of a previous existing endemic disease. Epidemics can also refer to outbreaks of disease in animal or plant populations. (MeSH)

Etiology: attempting to determine the cause of a disorder. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Describes the cause or causes of a disease. (PubMedHealth2)

Gene Therapy: techniques and strategies which include the use of ‘coding sequences’ and other conventional or radical means to transform or modify cells for the purpose of treating or reversing disease conditions. (MeSH) Experimental procedure aimed at replacing, manipulating, or supplementing nonfunctional or (malfunctioning) genes with healthy genes. (HGPIA) Most often, gene therapy works by introducing a healthy copy of a defective gene into the patient's cells. (NHGRI) A technology in which persons with a faulty gene are given treatments that involve the introduction of the normal gene into their bodies. (Brooker, 17) The first step in gene therapy is knowing which gene is "mutant." (Lewis, 89) Aims to treat disease by delivering to patients new copies of a gene that is missing or not working properly in their bodies. To date there have been no unqualified successes in gene therapy, and the field has struggled to find safe and effective methods of delivering therapeutic genes to where they are needed in the body. (GNN, 2013)

Ex Vivo Gene Therapy: occurs outside the body. Cells are removed from the body, a therapeutic gene is added to the cells, and the cells are then returned to the body. (Lewis, 397)

In Vivo Gene Therapy: occurs inside the body. A gene and its vector are introduced directly into the body. (Lewis, 397)

Graft: healthy skin, bone, or other tissue taken from one part of the body and used to replace diseased or injured tissue removed from another part of the body. ‘Graft rejection’ is the failure of transplanted tissue to become functional or operational, often as a result of destruction by the host's immune system. (NCIt)

Immunization: a technique used to cause an immune response that results in resistance to a specific disease, especially an infectious disease. (NCI1) (Giving a shot to) an individual with either killed or live agents to prevent contraction of a disease. (NCIt)

Immunotherapy: using the "immune system" to treat disease, for example, in the development of “vaccines.” May also refer to the therapy for diseases caused by the immune system. (NHGRI) A type of biological therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Some types of immunotherapy only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. (NCI1) Medical treatment used to amplify or redirect the “immune response.” (Lewis, 341) Manipulation of the “host’s" immune system in treatment of disease. It includes both active and passive immunization as well as “immunosuppressive” therapy to prevent graft rejection. (MeSH)

Laser: device that forms light into intense, narrow beams that may be used to cut or destroy tissue, such as cancer tissue. It may also be used to reduce swelling caused by a buildup of “lymph” fluid in tissue after “breast cancer” surgery. Lasers are used in microsurgery, photodynamic therapy, and many other procedures to diagnose and treat disease. (NCIt)

Oncology: the branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of cancerous tumors. (Bynum, 293) The study of tumors encompassing the physical, chemical, and biologic properties. (NCIt) A subspecialty of ‘internal medicine.’ (MeSH)

Pathology: the science of the causes and effects of diseases; especially the branch of medicine that deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissue for diagnostic or ‘forensic’ purposes. (Oxford)

Pathogen: an agent of disease; a disease producer. (NCIt) Organisms or infectious agents that cause disease. (Lewis, 326) Any microorganism that causes disease. (Bynum, 293) Used with microorganisms, viruses, and parasites for studies of their ability to cause disease in man, animals, or plants. (MeSH) Adjective - ‘pathogenic.’

Pathogenesis: the pathologic, physiologic, or biochemical mechanism resulting in the development of a disease. (NCIt) The potential ability of micro-organisms or parasites to cause disease in man, animal, or plant under specified conditions. (MeSH) Also referred to as 'pathogenicity.'

Personalized Medicine: genetic testing to guide drug selection, help physicians to select best drugs for a patient. Matching patients to drug. (Lewis, 394) Therapeutic approach tailoring therapy for genetically defined subgroups of patients. (MeSH) Also referred to as ‘individualized medicine’

Pharmacogenetics: a branch of “genetics” which deals with the genetic variability in individual responses to drugs and drug metabolism. (MeSH) The science of how a person’s genes affect his or her response to drugs. Research in pharmacogenetics has two goals. One is to identify people whose genetic make-up would make them sick or even die from taking a particular drug. If researchers can identify variations in genes that influence a person’s response to a drug, then “DNA testing” could reveal which patients should avoid the drug. The second goal is to predict who is most likely to benefit from one drug rather than another. (GNN) Detects variants of a single gene that affects drug metabolism. First widespread use was prescribing the blood thinner drug ‘warfarin.’ A pharmacogenetic "algorithm" is now used to prescribe warfarin. (Lewis, 394)

Pharmacogenomics: the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup. (GHR) Detects variants of multiple genes, or gene expression patterns, that affect drug metabolism. For example, a pharmacogenomic test uses a “DNA microarray” to predict which drugs will respond to ‘Hepatitis C.’ (Lewis, 394) Drugs used to treat for pharmacogenomic detected issues include “antidepressants,”  “chemotherapies,”  “HIV” drugs, smoking cessation drugs, and ‘statins’ (cholesterol-lowering drugs). (Lewis, 10)

Prognosis: describing the course of a disorder. (For example) how long will the disorder last, and whether there a possibility for remission. (Bamford, 10/25/10) The likely outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery or recurrence. (NCIt) A prediction of the probable outcome of a disease based on a individual's condition and the usual course of the disease as seen in similar situations. (MeSH)

Self-Limiting: describing a condition that runs a predicted course and is unaffected by any treatment. (OxfordMed)

Vaccine: a substance or group of substances meant to cause the immune system to respond to a “tumor” or to microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses. A vaccine can help the body recognize and destroy cancer cells or microorganisms. (NCI1) Originally vaccination was applied to the procedure pioneered by Edward Jenner, which used cowpox to protect against smallpox. When Louis Pasteur and others introduced microorganisms that had been modified to make them less dangerous, but which still produced immunity, the term was applied more widely. (Bruner, 293)