The value of any kind of data is greatly enhanced when it exists in a form that allows it to be integrated with other data. One approach to integration is through the annotation of multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or ‘ontologies’. Unfortunately, the very success of this approach has led to a proliferation of ontologies which itself creates obstacles to integration. The Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) consortium has set in train a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing (...) OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing a process of coordinated reform and new ontologies being created on the basis of an evolving set of shared principles governing ontology development. The result is an expanding family of ontologies designed to be interoperable, logically well-formed, and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe the OBO Foundry initiative, and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved. (shrink)
To enhance the treatment of relations in biomedical ontologies we advance a methodology for providing consistent and unambiguous formal definitions of the relational expressions used in such ontologies in a way designed to assist developers and users in avoiding errors in coding and annotation. The resulting Relation Ontology can promote interoperability of ontologies and support new types of automated reasoning about the spatial and temporal dimensions of biological and medical phenomena.
The Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) symbolically represents the structural organization of the human body from the macromolecular to the macroscopic levels, with the goal of providing a robust and consistent scheme for classifying anatomical entities that is designed to serve as a reference ontology in biomedical informatics. Here we articulate the need for formally clarifying the is-a and part-of relations in the FMA and similar ontology and terminology systems. We diagnose certain characteristic errors in the treatment of these relations (...) and show how these errors can be avoided through adoption of the formalism we describe. We then illustrate how a consistently applied formal treatment of taxonomy and partonomy can support the alignment of ontologies. (shrink)
The integration of biomedical terminologies is indispensable to the process of information integration. When terminologies are linked merely through the alignment of their leaf terms, however, differences in context and ontological structure are ignored. Making use of the SNAP and SPAN ontologies, we show how three reference domain ontologies can be integrated at a higher level, through what we shall call the OBR framework (for: Ontology of Biomedical Reality). OBR is designed to facilitate inference across the boundaries of domain ontologies (...) in anatomy, physiology and pathology. (shrink)
Tumors, abscesses, cysts, scars, fractures are familiar types of what we shall call pathological continuant entities. The instances of such types exist always in or on anatomical structures, which thereby become transformed into pathological anatomical structures of corresponding types: a fractured tibia, a blistered thumb, a carcinomatous colon. In previous work on biomedical ontologies we showed how the provision of formal definitions for relations such as is_a, part_of and transformation_of can facilitate the integration of such ontologies in ways which have (...) the potential to support new kinds of automated reasoning. We here extend this approach to the treatment of pathologies, focusing especially on those pathological continuant entities which arise when organs become affected by carcinomas. (shrink)
The Foundational Model of Anatomy (FMA) is a map of the human body. Like maps of other sorts – including the map-like representations we find in familiar anatomical atlases – it is a representation of a certain portion of spatial reality as it exists at a certain (idealized) instant of time. But unlike other maps, the FMA comes in the form of a sophisticated ontology of its objectdomain, comprising some 1.5 million statements of anatomical relations among some 70,000 anatomical kinds. (...) It is further distinguished from other maps in that it represents not some specific portion of spatial reality (say: Leeds in 1996), but rather the generalized or idealized spatial reality associated with a generalized or idealized human being at some generalized or idealized instant of time. It will be our concern in what follows to outline the approach to ontology that is represented by the FMA and to argue that it can serve as the basis for a new type of anatomical information science. We also draw some implications for our understanding of spatial reasoning and spatial ontologies in general. (shrink)