In Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease and the Modern Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity, Dr. Afrin mentions Dr. H Ibelgaufts and his online encyclopedia for everything cells and cytokines. Dr. H Ibelgaufts’ incredible resource has served as a critical tool for research for countless physicians and researchers over the years, including Dr. Afrin. For more than two decades, Dr. Ibelgaufts has been writing (previously COPE), providing an invaluable and comprehensive resource for any scientist or physician (and anyone else) interested in biomedical and cancer research — free of charge. However, life happens, and the cost of doing business often expands faster than the income we bring in — precisely the situation Dr. Ibelgaufts is facing with

Begrudgingly, Dr. Ibelgaufts came up with a plan requiring either a nominal donation or minimal monthly subscription to, to help offset the rising costs of paying for internet service, website hosting, and semi-decent equipment to work on, while still devoting consistent time writing for Cells-Talk, and despite living in a country that lacks the modern conveniences most have if running an online business or website.

Unfortunately, Dr. Ibegaufts was met with fierce criticism, negativity concerning his request for donations to help keep up and running, and berated by several incredibly entitled and disrespectful “professionals.” Some were more than willing to help keep Dr. Ibelgaufts’ incredible resource from folding, but most others were the complete opposite.

Discouraged, tired, and emotionally spent, Dr. Ibelgaufts’ final hope to keep up and running is either through the success of a funding initiative with a science-focused crowdfunding site based in the UK or through the help of those who value this online encyclopedia the most. Hence, the reason Mast Cell Research is devoting a page on our website to Dr. Ibelgaufts’ — “everything cells and cytokines” online encyclopedia.

Here’s what we are asking – please read the information included below, click to read the crowdfunding PDF, and consider this: If you value the work that Dr. Afrin, Dr. Molderings, and hundreds of other scientists and physicians are doing to help improve the quality of life and care for the patients who need it the most (all of us), please consider donating or subscribing to — even a $1 donation makes a huge difference. The funding needed to help Dr. Ibelgaufts’ keep up, and running isn’t much — it’s minimal in comparison to similar costs in developed countries. However, for the price of a Starbucks coffee once a month (or even once a year!), you could make an enormous impact on the lives of so many — possibly your own, or the life of someone you love. It’s entirely plausible that a key piece of information needed to help discover and then develop a life-saving medication or therapy may be clarified through one of Dr. Ibelgaufts entries in

The reality is that medical research and clinical trials cost thousands, if not millions of dollars – something the government will not pay for, and especially not for conditions that have yet to brush their radar. Raising money, applying for grants, and finding donations is an incomprehensible feat when trying to study the cause of and therapy for a condition that has little understanding or acceptance from the mainstream medical community. For Dr. Afrin to continue making great strides towards proving what the MCAS community already knows; therefore, demanding the need for better testing, the development of new and safe therapies, and an improvement in the overall quality of care patients with mast cell disease receive, we all MUST do our part in both donating the smallest amount we can spare, and sharing campaigns such as the one on this page, and Dr. Afrin’s 20/20 study, with as many people as possible.

As Dr. Afrin states in the last chapter of his book, he’s doing his part, will you do yours? 

The information included below has been shared with permission by Dr. Ibgelgaufts. Please email with any questions.

“COPE began 20 years ago as a “Dictionary of Cytokines” – the first of its kind. Its favorable reception by the scientific community is illustrated best by one book reviewer calling the dictionary “a kind of Rosetta Stone of Cytokine Research”, and another reviewer wrote that he never looked for such a dictionary as he thought it could not be written, and certainly not by a single author.

The first COPE internet version (COPE 2.0) was released in 1997. A lot has happened since then. Not only have existing entries been updated continuously, but new entries going beyond simple entries for cytokines and growth factor are constantly being added. During the past 15 years COPE an extensive collection of topic-specific subdictionaries has been added (choose “Overview” from COPE menu). COPE now is a concise and yet comprehensive extremely hypertexted web encyclopedia covering the manifold aspects of cellular communication biology.”

To read the full story about COPE, go to

“What exactly is COPE and why is it unique? COPE, short for “Cells & Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopedia”, is all about how body cells ‘talk’ to one another by using hormones and hormone-like proteins called cytokines. These chemical messengers constitute the universal networking language between cells and entire organs. Knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar of this “CellSpeak” allows scientists and clinicians to understand much of what healthy and diseased body cells and organs do, and the application of these insights enables them to treat a variety of diseases and even to eradicate certain types of cancers.

The COPE Encyclopedia is unique because it is the only existing resource that puts the focus on highlighting the complex interactions between cells and the messages they exchange. These relationships provide the value-added information urgently needed to understand cells. COPE puts all information into perspective by embedding a plethora of specific facts in a vast amount of more general but closely related content.” 

Why is COPE important for biomedicine and cancer research? There is always a very intensive cross-talk between healthy cells and diseased cells. One cannot understand one without the other, and that is where COPE is most useful. The information in COPE entries directly or indirectly promotes the understanding of causes of, and mechanisms involved in, cell function failure, fosters a more ‘holistic’ view of disease through the focus on said relationships between individual cells or entire organ systems, and also raises awareness for the fact that mind and psyche influence cell communication and hence organ functions.” 

Dr. Horst Ibelgaufts — author and scientist,

To read through and share the crowdfunding campaign for, click on COPE Crowdfunding.

“The COPE Encyclopedia is an extraordinary resource for biomedical scientists and clinicians – and an abysmally underappreciated labor of obvious love by a single author.

It was COPE’s entry on mast cells that, some years back, helped me see that the normal biology of these cells is so much more complex than what I had been taught in medical school or what I could glean even from the most comprehensive reviews of mast cell biology and disease. The insights gained through COPE contributed substantially to my being able to correctly diagnose and effectively treat the newly recognized “mast cell activation syndrome” (MCAS) in large numbers of previously mysteriously chronically ill patients despite their confounding great heterogeneity. It is not an understatement to say that information on COPE played a key role in making a huge difference in the lives of many seriously ill patients.

COPE’s critical contribution to the landscape of biomedical knowledge resources is that it highlights relationships between cells and the bioactive factors they send out and respond to. COPE, unlike any other resource that I know of, puts very complex information into context through extensive cross-referencing. By doing so, COPE creates value-added information that provides its readers the ability to “see dots”, to “connect dots” – and thus gain fundamentally new insights that might otherwise have been overlooked in just a few clicks.

I am convinced that what goes for mast cells also goes for other cell types – and COPE has the most comprehensive subdictionary of human cell types I have ever seen. Any biomedical scientist not making use of COPE almost certainly is missing opportunities to define larger scope and value to his/her work and should begin exploring COPE.” – Lawrence B. Afrin, M.D., author of Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease and the Modern Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity (2016)

Contact Information for

Dr. H Ibelgaufts
COPE: Cells | Cell Communication | Cancer Cells | Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopedia
Autumn 2016 Version 45.8 [45,800+ fully annotated pages of Communication Biology]
104,960+ cited references – 1 651 300+ internal hyperlinks
Please tell fellow scientists about COPE


Gallery of pictures proving the real things cells say to each other