The application of semantic technologies to the integration of biological data and the interoperability of bioinformatics analysis and visualization tools has been the common theme of a series of annual BioHackathons hosted in Japan for the past five years. Here we provide a review of the activities and outcomes from the BioHackathons held in 2011 in Kyoto and 2012 in Toyama. In order to efficiently implement semantic technologies in the life sciences, participants formed various sub-groups and worked on the following topics: Resource Description Framework (RDF) models for specific domains, text mining of the literature, ontology development, essential metadata for biological databases, platforms to enable efficient Semantic Web technology development and interoperability, and the development of applications for Semantic Web data. In this review, we briefly introduce the themes covered by these sub-groups. The observations made, conclusions drawn, and software development projects that emerged from these activities are discussed.
BioHackathon; Bioinformatics; Semantic Web; Web services; Ontology; Visualization; Knowledge representation; Databases; Semantic interoperability; Data models; Data sharing; Data integration
The development of the Functional Genomics Investigation Ontology (FuGO) is a collaborative, international effort that will provide a resource for annotating functional genomics investigations, including the study design, protocols and instrumentation used, the data generated and the types of analysis performed on the data. FuGO will contain both terms that are universal to all functional genomics investigations and those that are domain specific. In this way, the ontology will serve as the “semantic glue” to provide a common understanding of data from across these disparate data sources. In addition, FuGO will reference out to existing mature ontologies to avoid the need to duplicate these resources, and will do so in such a way as to enable their ease of use in annotation. This project is in the early stages of development; the paper will describe efforts to initiate the project, the scope and organization of the project, the work accomplished to date, and the challenges encountered, as well as future plans.
As new biomedical technologies are developed, the amount of publically available biomedical data continues to increase. To help manage these vast and disparate data sources, researchers have turned to the Semantic Web. Specifically, ontologies are used in data annotation, natural language processing, information retrieval, clinical decision support, and data integration tasks. The development of software applications to perform these tasks requires the integration of Web services to incorporate the wide variety of ontologies used in the health care and life sciences. The National Center for Biomedical Ontology, a National Center for Biomedical Computing created under the NIH Roadmap, developed BioPortal, which provides access to one of the largest repositories of biomedical ontologies. The NCBO Web services provide programmtic access to these ontologies and can be grouped into four categories; Ontology, Mapping, Annotation, and Data Access. The Ontology Web services provide access to ontologies, their metadata, ontology versions, downloads, navigation of the class hierarchy (parents, children, siblings) and details of each term. The Mapping Web services provide access to the millions of ontology mappings published in BioPortal. The NCBO Annotator Web service “tags” text automatically with terms from ontologies in BioPortal, and the NCBO Resource Index Web services provides access to an ontology-based index of public, online data resources. The NCBO Widgets package the Ontology Web services for use directly in Web sites. The functionality of the NCBO Web services and widgets are incorporated into semantically aware applications for ontology development and visualization, data annotation, and data integration. This overview will describe these classes of applications, discuss a few examples of each type, and which NCBO Web services are used by these applications.
BioPortal; ontology; web service; REST; Annotator; Resource Index
The National Center for Biomedical Ontology is now in its seventh year. The goals of this National Center for Biomedical Computing are to: create and maintain a repository of biomedical ontologies and terminologies; build tools and web services to enable the use of ontologies and terminologies in clinical and translational research; educate their trainees and the scientific community broadly about biomedical ontology and ontology-based technology and best practices; and collaborate with a variety of groups who develop and use ontologies and terminologies in biomedicine. The centerpiece of the National Center for Biomedical Ontology is a web-based resource known as BioPortal. BioPortal makes available for research in computationally useful forms more than 270 of the world's biomedical ontologies and terminologies, and supports a wide range of web services that enable investigators to use the ontologies to annotate and retrieve data, to generate value sets and special-purpose lexicons, and to perform advanced analytics on a wide range of biomedical data.
Collaborative technologies; knowledge representations; knowledge acquisition and knowledge management; controlled terminologies and vocabularies; ontologies; knowledge bases; applications that link biomedical knowledge from diverse primary sources (includes automated indexing); statistical analysis of large datasets; methods for integration of information from disparate sources; discovery; and text and data mining methods; automated learning; information retrieval; HIT data standards; representing; identifying; and modeling biological structures; developing and refining ehr data standards (including image standards)
Motivation: Data collection in spreadsheets is ubiquitous, but current solutions lack support for collaborative semantic annotation that would promote shared and interdisciplinary annotation practices, supporting geographically distributed players.
Results: OntoMaton is an open source solution that brings ontology lookup and tagging capabilities into a cloud-based collaborative editing environment, harnessing Google Spreadsheets and the NCBO Web services. It is a general purpose, format-agnostic tool that may serve as a component of the ISA software suite. OntoMaton can also be used to assist the ontology development process.
Availability: OntoMaton is freely available from Google widgets under the CPAL open source license; documentation and examples at: https://github.com/ISA-tools/OntoMaton.
The biomedical research community relies on a diverse set of resources, both within their own institutions and at other research centers. In addition, an increasing number of shared electronic resources have been developed. Without effective means to locate and query these resources, it is challenging, if not impossible, for investigators to be aware of the myriad resources available, or to effectively perform resource discovery when the need arises. In this paper, we describe the development and use of the Biomedical Resource Ontology (BRO) to enable semantic annotation and discovery of biomedical resources. We also describe the Resource Discovery System (RDS) which is a federated, inter-institutional pilot project that uses the BRO to facilitate resource discovery on the Internet. Through the RDS framework and its associated Biositemaps infrastructure, the BRO facilitates semantic search and discovery of biomedical resources, breaking down barriers and streamlining scientific research that will improve human health.
Ontology; Biositemaps; Resources; Biomedical research; Resource annotation; Resource discovery; Search; Semantic web; Web 2.0; Clinical and Translational Science Awards
The National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) is one of the National Centers for Biomedical Computing funded under the NIH Roadmap Initiative. Contributing to the national computing infrastructure, NCBO has developed BioPortal, a web portal that provides access to a library of biomedical ontologies and terminologies (http://bioportal.bioontology.org) via the NCBO Web services. BioPortal enables community participation in the evaluation and evolution of ontology content by providing features to add mappings between terms, to add comments linked to specific ontology terms and to provide ontology reviews. The NCBO Web services (http://www.bioontology.org/wiki/index.php/NCBO_REST_services) enable this functionality and provide a uniform mechanism to access ontologies from a variety of knowledge representation formats, such as Web Ontology Language (OWL) and Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) format. The Web services provide multi-layered access to the ontology content, from getting all terms in an ontology to retrieving metadata about a term. Users can easily incorporate the NCBO Web services into software applications to generate semantically aware applications and to facilitate structured data collection.
Translational medicine requires the integration of knowledge using heterogeneous data from health care to the life sciences. Here, we describe a collaborative effort to produce a prototype Translational Medicine Knowledge Base (TMKB) capable of answering questions relating to clinical practice and pharmaceutical drug discovery.
We developed the Translational Medicine Ontology (TMO) as a unifying ontology to integrate chemical, genomic and proteomic data with disease, treatment, and electronic health records. We demonstrate the use of Semantic Web technologies in the integration of patient and biomedical data, and reveal how such a knowledge base can aid physicians in providing tailored patient care and facilitate the recruitment of patients into active clinical trials. Thus, patients, physicians and researchers may explore the knowledge base to better understand therapeutic options, efficacy, and mechanisms of action.
This work takes an important step in using Semantic Web technologies to facilitate integration of relevant, distributed, external sources and progress towards a computational platform to support personalized medicine.
TMO can be downloaded from http://code.google.com/p/translationalmedicineontology and TMKB can be accessed at http://tm.semanticscience.org/sparql.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources; and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the second workshop of the ‘Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations’ (MIBBI) consortium held on Dec 1-2, 2010 in Rüdesheim, Germany through the sponsorship of the Beilstein-Institute. MIBBI is an umbrella organization uniting communities developing Minimum Information (MI) checklists to standardize the description of data sets, the workflows by which they were generated and the scientific context for the work. This workshop brought together representatives of more than twenty communities to present the status of their MI checklists and plans for future development. Shared challenges and solutions were identified and the role of MIBBI in MI checklist development was discussed. The meeting featured some thirty presentations, wide-ranging discussions and breakout groups. The top outcomes of the two-day workshop as defined by the participants were: 1) the chance to share best practices and to identify areas of synergy; 2) defining a series of tasks for updating the MIBBI Portal; 3) reemphasizing the need to maintain independent MI checklists for various communities while leveraging common terms and workflow elements contained in multiple checklists; and 4) revision of the concept of the MIBBI Foundry to focus on the creation of a core set of MIBBI modules intended for reuse by individual MI checklist projects while maintaining the integrity of each MI project. Further information about MIBBI and its range of activities can be found at http://mibbi.org/.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
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 is pursuing a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing coordinated reform, and new ontologies are 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 and logically well formed and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe this OBO Foundry initiative and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved.
Biomedical ontologies provide essential domain knowledge to drive data integration, information retrieval, data annotation, natural-language processing and decision support. BioPortal (http://bioportal.bioontology.org) is an open repository of biomedical ontologies that provides access via Web services and Web browsers to ontologies developed in OWL, RDF, OBO format and Protégé frames. BioPortal functionality includes the ability to browse, search and visualize ontologies. The Web interface also facilitates community-based participation in the evaluation and evolution of ontology content by providing features to add notes to ontology terms, mappings between terms and ontology reviews based on criteria such as usability, domain coverage, quality of content, and documentation and support. BioPortal also enables integrated search of biomedical data resources such as the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), ClinicalTrials.gov, and ArrayExpress, through the annotation and indexing of these resources with ontologies in BioPortal. Thus, BioPortal not only provides investigators, clinicians, and developers ‘one-stop shopping’ to programmatically access biomedical ontologies, but also provides support to integrate data from a variety of biomedical resources.
Sharing of microarray data within the research community has been greatly facilitated by the development of the disclosure and communication standards MIAME and MAGE-ML by the MGED Society. However, the complexity of the MAGE-ML format has made its use impractical for laboratories lacking dedicated bioinformatics support.
We propose a simple tab-delimited, spreadsheet-based format, MAGE-TAB, which will become a part of the MAGE microarray data standard and can be used for annotating and communicating microarray data in a MIAME compliant fashion.
MAGE-TAB will enable laboratories without bioinformatics experience or support to manage, exchange and submit well-annotated microarray data in a standard format using a spreadsheet. The MAGE-TAB format is self-contained, and does not require an understanding of MAGE-ML or XML.