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What’s New for 2017 MeSH!

Posted by on December 9th, 2016 Posted in: NLM Products, PubMed


MeSH is the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus which is updated annually. NLM uses the MeSH thesaurus to index articles from thousands of biomedical journals for the MEDLINE/PubMed database and for the cataloging of books, documents, and audiovisuals acquired by the Library.

Overview of Vocabulary Development and Changes for 2017 MeSH

  • 627 Descriptors added
  • 35 Descriptors replaced with more up-to-date terminology
  • 42 Descriptors deleted
  • 3 Qualifiers deleted
  • 1 Qualifier added

Totals by Type of Terminology

  • 28,472 Descriptors
  • 80 Qualifiers
  • 115,845 Total Descriptor Terms

New protein classes have been added to MeSH as part of an ongoing project to update and align MeSH protein classes with the gene families described by the Human Genome Nomenclature Committee (HGNC). A second part of the project involves creating organism-specific protein Supplemental Concept Records (SCRs) for model organism species. The process for creating descriptors included the promotion of SCRs to descriptors and creating new organism-specific protein SCRs that use the new descriptors as their Heading Mapped-To values. In addition Year-end processing tasks were used to populate existing citations with the new organism-specific protein SCRs.

MeSH added all valid terms and concepts, not already in MeSH, from the PubMed Dietary Supplement literature subset search strategy developed jointly by NLM and the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Also, in cooperation with the NLM Office of Computer and Communications Systems (OCCS), Library Operations staff refined the design and tested the beta version of the New MeSH Browser, which was released to the public on September 14, 2016. This new browser replaced the original MeSH Browser on November 16, 2016.

The radiography, radionuclide imaging, and ultrasonography qualifiers were replaced by a new qualifier, diagnostic imaging. There is an ongoing project to update MeSH chemicals with UNII (Unique Ingredient Identifier) numbers from the FDA SRS system. Additions and changes were made to UNIIs in over 1,500 of the top posting Supplementary Concept Records. This brings the total number of UNIIs in MeSH to 14,853. Another project reviewed and updated Enzyme Commission (EC) numbers for enzymes in MeSH. When the Commission changes a number, NLM follows the recommendation and does the same in MeSH. There were 1,200 such changes in 2017 MeSH.

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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