MalaCards Search Guide

This page provides information about MalaCards search mechanisms.


MalaCards Search features 

MalaCards searches are based on Elasticsearch 7.11 and support the following features:

  • Uses Stemming in all of its searches so that similar words will be found rather than just exact matches.
  • A search for multiple words (ex. Alzheimer Disease) behaves as an AND within the entire document; i.e. each of the words must exist in at least one of the sections of the matched MalaCards. To search for an exact phrase, simply add quotes to your search.
  • Parentheses should be used in searches for complex boolean strings in order to indicate precedence. Otherwise AND operations will take precedence over OR operations. See example below.
  • Disease name and aliases fields are boosted, so searches for those terms will match MalaCards accordingly named with higher scores than MalaCards containing the names in other fields.


What Do I Get? 

Search results provide a table of: 1. Serial number of the result 2. Family association: P- parent, c- child 3. MalaCards ID 4. Disease name 4. MIFTS 5. Relevance score.


Simple Search

Enter an expression into the search field on the MalaCards homepage and click 'search'.


  • The MalaCards search is case insensitive.
  • When search terms are encapsulated with double quotes, exact match is made. Exact match queries return only Cards having the exact query text, queries do not undergo stemming or removal of trivial words.


Wild card Searches 

The * character serves as a wildcard, which matches all possible character strings (including no characters). Additionally, the ? characters can be used to represent 1 character. Wild cards can be used anywhere in the search string except as the first character. Please note that wild card searches using initial wild cards, for example *gammaglob*, are not supported.

For example:

Searching for acid* will find maladies whose cards have the string acid, acidic, acidosis, and aciduria. Searching for acid? will yield those that have stings such as ACID2 and acidi. The term ac*d will find acid, ACY1D, and ACD, while ac?d finds acid and ACTD, among others.

Note that this is different from stemming, which matches strings that are considered to be related to the specified keyword. Stemming allows the search for acid (no wild card) to find acid and acidic.


Search Examples: 

* In the search (neurodegenerative or senile) and alzheimer the use of parentheses is important. Without parentheses the AND takes precedence in this search so that the results returned are for the neurodegenerative or senile AND alzheimer.


Search Type Search String Search Description
Simple search breast Exact word match (case insensitive).
Wild Card Search live* Any object that begins with the string "live".
Multiword Search obesity diabetes Search behaves as if an AND was used (see the AND search below).
Multiword Search obesity AND diabetes All strings or variants of strings must exist in the MalaCard.
Multiword Search obesity OR diabetes At least one of the strings or its variants must exist in the MalaCard (notice the difference from the AND search).
Multiword Search (neurodegenerative OR senile) AND alzheimer Finds all instances of either neurodegenerative AND alzheimer or senile AND alzheimer.
Multiword Search "macular degeneration" Exact phrase search. All words in the order that they are entered must be in the MalaCard.

Advanced Search

Advanced search enables you to browse MalaCards for more specific results. A broader variety of search options is offered in order to focus the search.

To use the Advanced search click the Advanced link next to the search box at the MalaCards homepage, or next to the search box within each card - a new page with more search options appears.
You will be able to choose which section of the MalaCards you would like to search in (e.g. aliases, summaries, pathways).

Now type the search string in the search field. If you wish to search in more than one field Click on the + button next to the search box to get another field to add more terms to your search, or to search in multiple fields within a MalaCard for your search terms. When adding another term in a separate field, you may choose to search for your first term AND your second term or to search for your first term OR your second term by changing the first select box in the new row from "AND" to "OR".

As in the simple search, you may enter multiple terms and explicit sub-queries in each search field.

Hit Context (Minicard) 

Hit Context (Minicard) - The search results are first displayed closed, showing the id, family, MCID, disease name, MIFTS score and relevance score. To open the minicard click on the plus to the left of the Family column on the appropriate minicard. All fields of the MalaCard in which your search term(s) were found will be displayed. The sections' names, which appear on the left, are linked to the corresponding sections in the MalaCard. All of the keywords entered in your search, including any variants found due to stemming, will be highlighted in the minicards.

The minicard list is sorted by relevance (determined by the relevance scoring method).

Relevance Scores 

The search platform used is Elasticsearch 7.11. For more information about the scoring mechanism see: Theory Behind Relevance Scoring.

Additional boosting is provided for the following annotations:

  • Malady Name
  • Malady Aliases and Descriptions
  • Malady genes (symbols)

There is no additional transformation applied to the score


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