This glossary provides pronunciations and easy-to-understand definitions for terms commonly used in basic biomedical research. To search the glossary, enter the word or term you’re looking for and the terms and definitions containing the word(s) will appear below. Search results are refined with each letter entered. You can also use your browser’s “find” feature.
An anesthetic is a medicine used to prevent pain during procedures like surgery and dental work.
A feature where machines learn to perform tasks, rather than simply carrying out computations that are input by human users. Early applications of AI included machines that could play games such as checkers and chess, and programs that could reproduce language.
A group of
tissues that perform a specific job, including the heart, brain, kidneys, liver, and lung.
A serious injury to the body, such as the following:
Surgery can also cause physical trauma, sometimes called a controlled injury.
An emerging approach for disease prevention and treatment that takes into account individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology.
The process the body uses to create
proteins from amino acids in the cell’s
viruses contain RNA, instead of
DNA, as their genetic material.
When noncoding pieces of
RNA, called introns, are removed and coding pieces of RNA, called exons, are joined together to produce an
A naturally occurring process in which small pieces of double-stranded RNA are used to prevent translation of messenger RNA. The process occurs in many organisms to silence genes when their protein products are no longer needed. When RNAi doesn’t work as it should, it may lead to certain diseases. RNAi has an important role in basic research allowing scientists to directly observe the effects of the loss of function of specific genes.
The effect of a drug, other than the desired effect, sometimes in an
organ other than the target organ.
A cell that can develop into many different cell types in the body. When stem cells divide, they can form more stem cells or other specialized cells.
The study of how biological molecules are built. Imaging techniques allow scientists to view molecules in three dimensions to see how they are put together, how they function, and how they interact.
A molecule that binds to an enzyme and undergoes a chemical change during the ensuing reaction.
The science of the formation of more complex chemical molecules from simpler building blocks.
A field focused on the study of relationships and interactions between various parts of a biological system (metabolic pathways, organelles, cells, and organisms) and that integrates this information to understand how biological systems function.
A group of
cells that act together to carry out a specific function in the body. Examples include muscle tissue, nervous system tissue (including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves), and connective tissue (including ligaments, tendons, bones, and fat). Organs are made up of tissues.
A field of study that combines cells, engineering, and materials methods, with the goal of improving or replacing biological functions.
The most powerful type of electron microscopy (EM), which uses electrons to create an image of a sample. TEM can magnify objects more than 10 million times, making the outline and some details of cells, viruses, and even some large molecules visible.
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