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New image search tool a boon to educators

osteosarcoma cell - smallThe perfect image for a lecture or presentation may be only a Google search away. But just because a picture appears at the top of your results doesn’t mean you can use it, especially if your presentation will be going online.

This is a problem commonly encountered by course designers at the Stanford School of Medicine’s Continuing Medical Education. “If we have a two-hour online course, my guess is we spend 15 hours trying to figure out the copyright status of the presentations,” Linda Baer, director of continuing medical education at Stanford, recently told me.

Now she — and anyone else looking for medical images — has a new resource to make that process easier: Bio-Image Search, developed by Lane Medical Library, serves up images and diagrams exclusively from medical and scientific organizations. It groups the results based on the degree to which their republication is restricted.

The tool is available to anyone with Internet access. Simply go to the search bar at the top of the Lane Library website and select Bio-Image Search from the drop-down menu to the left of the main search bar. It has access to more than 2 million images and the Lane Medical Library staff are adding more. Stanford researchers with images to contribute can contact Tony Christopher.

Kim Smuga-Otto is a student in UC Santa Cruz’s science communication program and a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication and Public Affairs.

Image, of an osteosarcoma cell, by Dylan Burnette and Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz/NIH

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