Beginner Medical English

A Reference Handbook for Mongolian Students and Healthcare Professionals (DOWNLOAD)

Medical Terminology

ONLINE LESSONS for Healthcare Professionals in Mongolia

Human Anatomy and Physiology

by Dr. Bruce Forciea, 2012 (DOWNLOAD)

Cells: Molecules and Mechanisms

University Cell and Molecular Biology textbook (DOWNLOAD)

Friday, December 28, 2012

TERMS: Syncope

Syncope is the medical term for fainting. It is a sudden loss of consciousness, usually for a short time. It is mostly because there is not enough oxygen in the brain. However, it could possibly be through other reasons. It is also called blacking out.

Syncope is defined as a transient loss of consciousness and postural tone, characterized by rapid onset, short duration, and spontaneous recovery, due to global cerebral hypoperfusion (low blood flow to the brain) that most often results from hypotension (low blood pressure).

Many forms of syncope are often preceded by dizziness and loss of vision (temporary), loss of hearing (temporary), loss of pain and feeling (temporary), nausea and abdominal discomfort, weakness, sweating, a feeling of heat, palpitations and other phenomena.

There are three broad categories of syncope; cardiogenic, reflex or orthostatic hypotension. Cardiogenic forms are more serious and require immediate treatment. Although cardiogenic syncope is much more common in older patients, an effort to rule out arrhythmic, obstructive, ischemic, or cardiomyopathic causes of syncope and circulatory inadequacy is important in each patient.

Syncope is extraordinarily common, occurring for the most part in two age ranges: the teen age years, and during older age. Estimates of lifetime incidence of at least one syncopal episode include 40-50% of the general populace. Syncope comprises 1-3 percent of all attendances to emergency departments and 1-6 percent of all hospital admissions.

Word List:
  • consciousness: the state of being able to use your senses and mental powers to understand what is happening
  • transient: continuing for only a short time
  • postural tone: the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles, helping to maintain posture
  • rapid: done or happening very quickly
  • onset: the beginning of something, especially something unpleasant
  • duration: the length of time that something lasts or continues
  • spontaneous: not planned, suddenly
  • preceded: to happen before
  • nausea: the feeling that you have when you want to vomit
  • palpitations: a physical condition in which your heart beats very quickly and in an irregular way
  • phenomena: a fact or an event in nature
  • cardiogenic: symptom or sign that originates from a condition of the heart
  • orthostatic: relating to or caused by an upright posture
  • arrhythmic: an abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart
  • obstructive: connected with a passage, tube, etc. in your body that has become blocked
  • ischemic: decrease in the blood supply to a bodily organ, tissue, or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels
  • cardiomyopathic: disorder (usually of unknown origin) of the heart muscle (myocardium)
  • extraordinarily: not normal or ordinary; greater or better than usual
  • incidence: how much something happens or has an effect
  • episode: an event in which something happened
  • populace: all the ordinary people of a particular country or area
= syncope
= consciousness
= transient
= postural
= spontaneous
= hypoperfusion
= hypotension
= nausea
= palpitation
= phenomena
= cardiogenic
= arrhythmic
= obstructive
= cardiomyopathy
= extraordinarily
= incidence
= episode
= populace

Wikipedia: Syncope (medicine)
Simple.wikipedia: Syncope Syncope
Wikipedia - photo: Fainting by Pietro Longhi

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

TERM: Cholesterol

Structure of the cholest-5-en-3β-ol (cholesterol)

Cholesterol is a molecule that is found in cells. It is a type of lipid which is a fat or fat-like molecule. Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance. Cholesterol is a special type of lipid that is called a steroid. Steroids are lipids that have a special chemical structure. This structure is made of four rings of carbon atoms. Cholesterol is found especially in animal fats.

Other steroids include hormone steroids like cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. In fact, all steroid hormones are made from changing the basic chemical structure of cholesterol. When scientists talk about making one molecule from changing simpler ones, they sometimes call it synthesis.

Cholesterol is also necessary to the normal permeability and function of the membranes that surround cells. A diet high in saturated fats tends to increase blood cholesterol levels, whereas a diet high in unsaturated fats tends to lower blood cholesterol levels. Although some cholesterol is obtained from the diet, most cholesterol is made in the liver and other tissues.

Hypercholesterolemia means that cholesterol level is too high in the blood. Cholesterol levels that are high are possible precursors to heart disease.

Word List:
  • molecule: the smallest unit, consisting of a group of atoms, into which a substance can be divided without a change in its chemical nature
  • waxy: looking or feeling like wax
  • synthesis: the natural chemical production of a substance in animals and plants
  • permeability: allowing a liquid or gas to pass through
  • precursor: a person or thing that comes before somebody/something similar and that leads to or influences its development
 = cholesterol
 = molecule
 = lipid
 = steroid
 = hormone
 = cortisol
 = estrogen
 = testosterone
 = synthesis
 = permeable
 = hypercholesterolemia
 = precursor

References: - cholesterol - cholesterol

LYRICS: Med School M1 Style

Published on Nov 17, 2012
Parody of Gangnam Style, created by the New York Medical College Class of 2016.

Med school M1 style
M1 style

Buyin' my scrubs and scope I'm runnin' out of money
I've only got the time for two, it's study, sleep or party
Hope my diagnostic skills don't turn out to be lethal
Wear my white coat to fight evil

Smell like formaldehyde
'Cuz my cadaver is my best friend
Use Grants as my guide
When lectures leave me at my wits end
I apologize
'Cuz when I don't know I just pretend
Is that pneumothorax? Well I'll just pretend

First day of classes, and I be gunnin'
Save me a seat, Hey! I won't be beat, Hey!

Next week in lecture, I update Facebook
And then pass out, Hey! Without a doubt, Hey!
But it's just biostats, so relax and chill out (out out out)

Med school M1 style
M1 style
Med school M1 style
M1 style
Twenty Sixteen
Med school M1 style

We study daily
Up in the mods
Med school M1 style
I scored an ninety
On the exam
eh eh eh eh eh eh

Monday through Friday the mods feel like a blizzard
On weekends I wear oven mitts and I become a lizard
In the shower, gym and bed, I'm always listening to Camtasias
Then my brain gets hyperplasia

Got ballistics gel
To study penetrating trauma
Prof just drew a mouse
It looks just like a teratoma
Can't see anything
I gotta adjust my condenser
Is that microvilli? No it's cilia

When I'm a doctor, good health I'll foster
I'll be well know, Hey! Pay off my loans, Hey!

After med school, I'll find a girlfriend
Babe can't you see, Hey! Here's my degree, Hey!
She'll be all over me like my PPE (e e e)

Med school M1 style
M1 style
Med school M1 style
M1 style
Twenty Sixteen
Med school M1 style

We study daily
Up in the mods
Med school M1 style
My brain is hazy
O o o o
eh eh eh eh eh eh

Let me see, is that hypertrophy
'orta overridin' and a VSD
Let me see, stenosis just maybe
Bluish baby, this must be tetralogy
You know what I'm saying
Med school M1 style
eh eh eh eh eh eh

We study daily
Up in the mods
Med School M1 style
We're goin' crazy
O o o o
eh eh eh eh eh eh
Med school M1 style

Guys, Histo grades are up

Friday, December 21, 2012

NEWS: Is Stem Cell Research Possible in Mongolia?

Originally posted at on Dec 11, 2012
A Contribution to Montsame's "Mongolia Today Magazine." Stem Cells and Scientific Progress in Mongolia.

It was a great pleasure to receive a call from Montsame about a possible contribution to the magazine. What was news to Montsame was the fact that I had been able to do stem cell research, at the highest level, in the USA but had returned home to Mongolia, hoping to make a contribution to my own country.

Montsame always had a special place in my memory from childhood as Montsame Radio news, which had a several radio-broadcasts weekly, reading letters from foreign countries that the Montsame office had received. Those letters often described how people around the world wished to visit Mongolia and how they had imagined the country via Montsame radio-broadcasting. Conversely, it was so intriguing for me to hear about these people that I wanted to get to know these countries and people from Japan, USA, Germany and more. After completion of my Master’s and Bachelor’s studies in Mongolila, my years of study for my Doctorate in Germany and postdoctoral research in Canada, my dream brought me finally to the USA. During my stay at the Ordway Research Institute and Wadsworth Institute in upstate New York, I had a chance to do research on the ways that stem cells change during the course of aging and in cancer. Stem cell research itself was a new phenomenon, as was specific research on malignant stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (capable of differentiation into multiple different cells with respect to function). Stem cells were just being introduced into Medical and Clinical areas and were just being spoken of to the public by researchers and research institutions. And this year, 2012, Laureates John B. Gurdon (UK) and Shinya Yamanaka (Japan) received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their pioneering work in the field. Dr. Yamanaka’s work on iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells) proved that adult cell can produce stem cells and provided a major insight into reverse aging.

My work in the USA (Albany, NY) focused on the aging of stem cells and the possible roles of stem cell during aging processes. I was also interested in examining whether cancer is caused by cancerous stem cells or whether stem cells’ potential is associated with cancer-causing effects. A stem cell is a cell that can give a rise to all other types of cell of an organism. Thus, it is possible to generate healthy stem cells from a patient and use them in the healing process. However, when and how stem cells produce healthy or cancer cells is still the focus of intense current research. This is another important point that any stem cell treatment in the future must be monitored by only professionals. Especially in countries like Mongolia where such advanced knowledge and skills are rare to consult and health care system is degraded in the country pervasively. After years of research by hundreds of scientists, stem cell research is creating a whole new paradigm in medical and clinical science offering personalized and regenerative treatments that is only now being appreciated by the public all over the world today.

Probably the first member at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) from Mongolia, I had the opportunity to participate in the ISSCR 10th Annual Meeting in Yokohama, Japan, in 2012. Gathered from all over the world, stem cell researchers shared the result of each other’s experiments, exchanged ideas about the use of stem cells in common diseases and discussed detailed mechanisms of numerous biochemical and molecular biological aspects of stem cells life-processes.

My poster for the annual meeting attracted some attention because it was from Mongolia, but, because of limited research facilities in Mongolia, my research was not at the forefront of the field. The importance of stem cells research was underlined by a visit from the Emperor and Empress of Japan, which I recognised as a gesture of respect by Japan for stem cell research and researchers. This year’s host city of Yokohama is a dedicated research hub for biomedical research and, in particular, it is one of several major sites of Japanese institutions where serious stem cell research takes place.

Energized and encouraged, my first ever visit to an ISSCR Annual meeting and the country of Japan still fuels my wish to initiate a well-grounded stem cell research project in Mongolia, since stem cells have so much potential in medical treatments and overall biomedical scientific knowledge that will be offered to the human kind. Mongolia today is classified as a middle-income country in terms of its GDP, but it lags behind in all areas of science that are rapidly expanding elsewhere in the World today. Mongolia sees itself and is seen by cooperating countries as a developing country. Moreover, there is an un-written yet clearly understood message that advanced research, for example, in stem cells, is not possible in developing countries.

But, on returning to Ulaanbaatar from Yokohama, I asked myself "Why should scientists in a developing country like Mongolia not be able to study stem cells?”. How should such research be planned? What should we look for in the next five years and beyond in advanced scientific research and its application? What kind of successful international collaborations might be productive for all stakeholders?

The Great Mongolian Khaans’ understanding and appreciation of the importance of knowledge and science are evident from historic artifacts. In more recent times, Mongolian science thrived during collaborations with the Soviet Union, via its strong commitment to science. Today, however, modern science is only represented by a few Mongolians who have returned home after studies abroad. We all understand how science and knowledge-based applications of scientific research are being ignored here. Mongolia needs to engage in serious discussions and decision making to build well-grounded foundations both for its future as a contributor to the World of scientific research and for applications of relevant scientific and medical discoveries to improvement of the wellbeing of Mongolians.

Our newly formed government should begin a transparent, open and inclusive progress of policy making in the fields of basic science, applied science and technology. Positive changes in our education system still need to highlight the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) which are the foundations of all advances in knowledge. Education and scientific research can be combined to develop entrepreneurial markets via innovation. Advanced research must occur in parallel with the development of a society in which everyone is wired and connected through social media and has access to open-source information. The human resources to fill the gap that formed during the post-soviet era are becoming available as western-style educated Mongolian scientists and professionals return to their native country for visits of even to live, bringing their valuable talents and training home. We must welcome and encourage them, and we must make it possible for them to use their sophisticated skills and education here in Mongolia. Not only that, they are the bases of working hand in hand with collaborators from the scientifically and technologically advanced countries that Mongolia is calling to build its strong economy together. These scientists are gold in terms of human capital. Every effort should be made to provide them with the facilities that they need to make use of their knowledge and experience for the good of their country.

Ariun Narmandakh PhD, for questions and comments please contact

Word List:
  • intriguing: very interesting because of being unusual or not having an obvious answer
  • phenomena: a fact or an event in nature or society, especially one that is not fully understood
  • malignant: that cannot be controlled and is likely to cause death
  • degraded: to make something become worse, especially in quality
  • pervasively: existing in all parts of a place or thing; spreading gradually to affect all parts of a place or thing
  • paradigm: a typical example or pattern of something
  • hub: the central and most important part of a particular place or activity
  • thrived: to become, and continue to be, successful, strong, healthy, etc
  • innovation: the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something
= intriguing
= phenomena
= malignant
= degraded
= pervasive
= paradigm
= hub
= thrive
= innovation

Friday, December 14, 2012

TERM: Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A neurological event with the signs and symptoms of a stroke, but which go away within a short period of time. Also called a mini-stroke, a TIA is due to a temporary lack of adequate blood and oxygen (ischemia) to the brain - either in the brain, spinal cord or eye – without acute infarction (tissue death). This is often caused by the narrowing of the carotid arteries (the major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain).

CT scan slice of the brain showing a right-hemispheric ischemic stroke (left side of image).
TIAs and strokes cause the same symptoms, such as contralateral paralysis (opposite side of body from affected brain hemisphere) or sudden weakness or numbness. A TIA may cause sudden dimming or loss of vision, aphasia, slurred speech and mental confusion.

A silent stroke or silent cerebral infarct (SCI) differs from a TIA in that there are no immediately observable symptoms. A SCI may still cause long lasting neurological dysfunction affecting such areas as mood, personality and cognition. A SCI often occurs before or after a TIA or major stroke.

The most common cause of a TIA is an embolus that occludes an artery in the brain. This usually arises from a dislodged plaque in one of the carotid arteries (i.e. two of the four major arteries supplying the brain) or from a thrombus (i.e. a blood clot) in the heart. In a TIA, the blockage period is very short-lived and there is no permanent damage. The cholesterol build-up is gradual and eventually narrows the lumen. With time, blood flow to that side of the brain is reduced and a stroke may result. In other cases, cholesterol particles from the atherosclerotic plaque may suddenly break off and enter the brain. In some people, these fragments come off from the heart and go to the brain. This often happens during a heart attack or an infection of the valves.

TIAs typically last 2 to 30 minutes and can produce problems with vision, dizziness, weakness or trouble speaking.

If not treated, there is a high risk of having a major stroke in the near future. People who have a TIA have a 25% greater risk of having a stroke or other serious complication within 90 days.

Understanding Stroke Slideshow Pictures

Word List:
  • transient: continuing for only a short time
  • neurological: relating to nerves (for example, the brain)
  • adequate: enough in quantity, or good enough in quality
  • paralysis: a loss of control of, and sometimes feeling in, part or most of the body, caused by disease or an injury to the nerves
  • to dim: not enough light, not bright
  • aphasia: the loss of the ability to produce understandable speech (words pronounced correctly but not used correctly), because of brain damage
  • slurred = to pronounce words in a way that is not clear so that they run into each other, usually because you are drunk or tired
  • disfunction / dysfunction: the fact of a part of the body not working normally
  • mood: the way you are feeling at a particular time
  • cognition: the process by which knowledge and understanding is developed in the mind
  • embolus: a blood clot, air bubble, or small object that causes an blockage an artery in the body
  • to occlude: to cover or block something
  • to dislodge: to force or knock something out of its position
  • plaque: made from various substances that circulate in your blood and accumulates on the inner walls of your arteries
  • thrombus: A blood clot formed in situ within the vascular system of the body and impeding blood flow
  • lumen: central cavity of a tubular (for example a vein or artery) or other hollow structure in an organism or cell.

= transient
= neurological
= temporary
= adequate
= ischemia
= infarction
= carotid
= paralysis
= hemisphere
= aphasia
= slur
= dysfunction
= mood
= cognition
= embolus
= occlude
= dislodge
= plaque
= thrombus
= cholesterol
= lumen
= atherosclerotic
= dizziness
= complication

Photo: Wikipedia by Lucien Monfils Transient ischemic attack
Wikipedia: Transient Ischemic Attack Arterial Plaque

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TERM: Human immunodeficiency virus, HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) [Хүний дархлал хомсдолын вирус] is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which infects the human immune system (the system in the body which is in charge of fighting off illness). HIV may cause AIDS (a collection of diseases and symptoms, or problems in the body) by eventually killing the white blood cells, which a healthy body uses to fight off disease.

HIV (Wikipedia - Simple English)
HIV AIDS Myths and Facts Slideshow Pictures
Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz
AIDS Retrospective Slideshow Pictures

Word List:
  • retrovirus [ретровиррус]: any virus which copies itself as part of the cell's DNA by reverse transcribing its RNA. Since the cell cannot proofread the step in which RNA is converted back to DNA, errors often go unnoticed. This makes the exact sequence of a retrovirus's RNA change often. This makes it harder for retroviruses to be attacked by drugs

= retrovirus
= symptom

HIV (Wikipedia - Simple English)
photo: HIV structure

Friday, December 7, 2012

TERM: Adenoids and Tonsils

Adenoids and Tonsils: These structures (adenoids and tonsils) in the back of the throat are composed of tissue similar to lymph nodes or "glands."

The tonsils [бүйлсэн булчирхай] are areas of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. An infection of the tonsils is called tonsillitis. Most commonly, the term "tonsils" refers to the palatine tonsils that can be seen in the back of the throat. Like other organs of the lymphatic system, the tonsils act as part of the immune system to help protect against infection. In particular, they are believed to be involved in helping fight off pharyngeal and upper respiratory tract infections.

Adenoids [хамар залгиурын булчирхай томролт] (also called pharyngeal tonsils, or nasopharyngeal tonsils) are tissues at the very back of the nose, in the roof of the nasopharynx [хамар залгиур], where the nose blends into the mouth. Normally, in children, they make a soft mound in the roof and posterior wall of the nasopharynx, just above and behind the uvula [хүүхэн хэл]. Taking away adenoids with surgery is called adenoidectomy [хамар залгиурын булчирхай авах].

Wikipedia (Simple English): Tonsil
Wikipedia (Simple English): Lymphatic System - Lymphatic System

Word List:
  • lymph nodes [тунгалгийн булчирхай]: one of several small organs in your body that help to remove harmful bacteria from your blood
  • lymphatic system [тунгалгийн систем]: network of thin vessels that branch, like blood vessels, into tissues throughout the body. It is part of the immune system. It is a one-way system which carries cells and fluid back to the blood system
  • pharyngeal [залгиурын]: relating to the pharynx = the soft area at the top of the throat where the passages to the nose and mouth connect with the throat
  • tract [зам]: a system of connected organs or tissues along which materials or messages pass
  • posterior: located behind something or at the back of something
= adenoids
= tonsil
= lymphoid
= tissue
= tonsillitis
= palatine
= lymphatic
= immune
= pharyngeal
= upper
= respiratory
= nasopharyngeal
= nasopharynx
= posterior
= uvula
= adenoidectomy

Photo (tonsils): U.S. National Cancer Institute
Photo (adenoids): Gray's Anatomy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TERM: Cough

Originally posted on

Cough: A rapid expulsion of air from the lungs, typically in order to clear the lung airways of fluids, mucus, or other material. Also known as tussis.

Other links:
Cold & Flu Cough Relief Slideshow
Cold & Flu Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Cold and Flu Slideshow: Treating Your Child's Cold or Fever

Word List:
  • rapid: done or happening very quickly
  • expulsion: the act of sending or driving a substance out of your body
  • mucus: a thick liquid that is produced in parts of the body, such as the nose, by a mucous membrane
  • tussis: cough
= cough
= rapid
= expulsion
= mucus
= tussis