A Unified Framework for Biomedical Terminologies and Ontologies

Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 160:1050-1054 (2010)
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Abstract

The goal of the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry initiative is to create and maintain an evolving collection of non-overlapping interoperable ontologies that will offer unambiguous representations of the types of entities in biological and biomedical reality. These ontologies are designed to serve non-redundant annotation of data and scientific text. To achieve these ends, the Foundry imposes strict requirements upon the ontologies eligible for inclusion. While these requirements are not met by most existing biomedical terminologies, the latter may nonetheless support the Foundry’s goal of consistent and non-redundant annotation if appropriate mappings of data annotated with their aid can be achieved. To construct such mappings in reliable fashion, however, it is necessary to analyze terminological resources from an ontologically realistic perspective in such a way as to identify the exact import of the ‘concepts’ and associated terms which they contain. We propose a framework for such analysis that is designed to maximize the degree to which legacy terminologies and the data coded with their aid can be successfully used for information-driven clinical and translational research.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo