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1.  Combining ontologies and workflows to design formal protocols for biological laboratories 
Background
Laboratory protocols in life sciences tend to be written in natural language, with negative consequences on repeatability, distribution and automation of scientific experiments. Formalization of knowledge is becoming popular in science. In the case of laboratory protocols two levels of formalization are needed: one for the entities and individuals operations involved in protocols and another one for the procedures, which can be manually or automatically executed. This study aims to combine ontologies and workflows for protocol formalization.
Results
A laboratory domain specific ontology and the COW (Combining Ontologies with Workflows) software tool were developed to formalize workflows built on ontologies. A method was specifically set up to support the design of structured protocols for biological laboratory experiments. The workflows were enhanced with ontological concepts taken from the developed domain specific ontology.
The experimental protocols represented as workflows are saved in two linked files using two standard interchange languages (i.e. XPDL for workflows and OWL for ontologies). A distribution package of COW including installation procedure, ontology and workflow examples, is freely available from http://www.bmr-genomics.it/farm/cow.
Conclusions
Using COW, a laboratory protocol may be directly defined by wet-lab scientists without writing code, which will keep the resulting protocol's specifications clear and easy to read and maintain.
doi:10.1186/1759-4499-2-3
PMCID: PMC2873243  PMID: 20416048
2.  Muscle Research and Gene Ontology: New standards for improved data integration 
Background
The Gene Ontology Project provides structured controlled vocabularies for molecular biology that can be used for the functional annotation of genes and gene products. In a collaboration between the Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium and the muscle biology community, we have made large-scale additions to the GO biological process and cellular component ontologies. The main focus of this ontology development work concerns skeletal muscle, with specific consideration given to the processes of muscle contraction, plasticity, development, and regeneration, and to the sarcomere and membrane-delimited compartments. Our aims were to update the existing structure to reflect current knowledge, and to resolve, in an accommodating manner, the ambiguity in the language used by the community.
Results
The updated muscle terminologies have been incorporated into the GO. There are now 159 new terms covering critical research areas, and 57 existing terms have been improved and reorganized to follow their usage in muscle literature.
Conclusion
The revised GO structure should improve the interpretation of data from high-throughput (e.g. microarray and proteomic) experiments in the area of muscle science and muscle disease. We actively encourage community feedback on, and gene product annotation with these new terms. Please visit the Muscle Community Annotation Wiki .
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-2-6
PMCID: PMC2657163  PMID: 19178689

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