A Review of OMMBID
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Alison Gehred, MLIS
Reference Librarian
Grant Morrow III Library
Nationwide Children’s Hospital


Scriver’s OMMBID, a database for researchers who are studying genetics and genetic mechanisms in disease states, is offered through McGraw-Hill Education. The database is based on the four-volume Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Diseases, which was originally published in 1960. Its features include the textbook OMMBID (which is continually updated), high-quality images that are easy to download for presentations, animations of disease processes, a section on clinical phenotypes that was written by Jean-Marie Saudubary with algorithms for diagnosis, and social media including the OMMBID Blog and Twitter. (Disclaimer about the social media: the blog has not been updated in two years (as of December 2018) and the Twitter feed has not been updated since 2013.)

The editor-in-chief, David Valle, MD, is the Henry J. Knott professor and director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Four of the 11 editors are based at Johns Hopkins, but the editorial board does include international researchers and the late Charles R. Scriver.

OMMBID has 31 parts and 259 chapters dedicated to various genetic diseases. The parts are broken down by body systems and organs where these mutations occur. The newest part (part 31) has three chapters on multiple sclerosis, complex II deficiencies, and GNE myopathy. These parts were added to the latest edition in 2014. The database is an encyclopedic review of literature on genetics and is made for researchers who want to get background on a disease.


The OMMBID homepage is colorful and lively. It has a simple search bar in the upper right corner. It lists parts of the book and uses icons to describe what is in them. Scrolling down the page, one can see featured animations. The bottom of the page has three vertical boxes that describe MyAccess through McGraw-Hill and how to create a free login, popular chapters, and the OMMBID blog (last updated since 2016).

To do an advanced search, users are taken to another page with several options. There is no Boolean operator option, but users can narrow their search by focusing on books, quick reference, multimedia, images, cases, authors, and contributors. Users can also choose to search between the textbook and the OMMBID blog.

OMMBID also features some multimedia options. The site includes 10 animations of various genetic processes. Some of the text for the animations is difficult to follow and gets obscured by graphics. Users can sign up for email updates and an exportable list of references, which sends the correct citation information to an Excel document. There are also several images that one can download as PowerPoint slides. The images are listed in the order that they are found in the book itself. When I tried to click on the links to “View in Context,” the two links I tried were broken and sent me back to the homepage.

The OMMBID blog has not been updated. The post that I read, about a paragraph long, was a brief summary of new research in genetics. Users can print, cite, and share the blog post on various social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit. The blog archive has a simple search bar and it shows where various articles fit in the context of OMMBID. For example, an article about neurogenetics would be listed under the subheading “Part 28 Neurogenetics.” This is an interesting way to supplement the book and keep the content fresh. The right-hand toolbar has several subcategories that users can browse to see what kinds of articles there are for each subject. This toolbar also has several links to useful sites such as PubMed and the Society of Inherited Metabolic Disease, among others.

The text itself is similar to other ebooks online. For example, users can choose a part and then expand or contract the list of contents to scroll down to find the parts they need. Figures have options to be viewed in full size, marked as favorites, and downloaded to a PowerPoint. There are also places to download the citations for the specific chapters, print, and share on social media. Users also can check on a toolbar across the top of the page to do a simple search of the book if they need more information. Clicking on the “Sections” icon brings up a list of the sections for that particular part on the left-hand side.

OMMBID is part of McGraw-Hill Medical, and there are several features that are useful for librarians. There are training sessions, creating a free MyAccess account to save favorites and bookmark items, and ways to get usage statistics. McGraw-Hill Medical has resources that librarians can use to promote this database. The OMMBID section has the logo in a .PNG file, which allows for more flexibility in the design and easier ways to tailor it to the specific webpage or promotional item.

Business Model              

OMMBID is available from McGraw-Hill Education through their Access program. Subscriptions can be purchased individually, institutionally, or through a consortium. The pricing is tiered based on the size of the population using the product. My own institution purchased this product through a consortium. The pricing information is proprietary, but if an individual or organization is interested in purchasing OMMBID, a customer service representative will be happy to answer queries.


OMMBID is a classic that is useful for multiple users online. It allows patrons to get the information they need anytime and anywhere that works for them. The problem, however, is that OMMBID is very much based in its print background. Most of the features revolve around the book itself and, while there are interesting additions like the blog or the animations, these need to be more focused and updated regularly to keep the database relevant. It’s a useful resource and great for teaching and research. However, the features need to be updated and it needs to be more user friendly. For example, the text needs to be blocked off so it is easier to read on a screen. The lengthy paragraphs could be separated by a line or large quotes. It also would be beneficial to have features that are useful to expert searchers. The advanced search leaves much to be desired in this regard. A clinical queries feature would be very helpful for this database. This is a resource for medical libraries to own if they are focused on medical education. It is what it is, an encyclopedia of genetic diseases, and that is extremely useful. However, it’s not really an interactive experience and it could tweak a few features that would make it a better experience overall.

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1 Comment

  1. Clayton Reynolds MD October 20, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Does anyone know whom I can contact to obtain permission to “copy and paste” some of the text material from OMMBID to my EMR? If so, please notify me at reynoldsclayton@msn.com

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