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1.  Risk factor detection for heart disease by applying text analytics in electronic medical records 
Journal of biomedical informatics  2015;58(Suppl):S164-S170.
In the United States, about 600,000 people die of heart disease every year. The annual cost of care services, medications, and lost productivity reportedly exceeds 108.9 billion dollars. Effective disease risk assessment is critical to prevention, care, and treatment planning. Recent advancements in text analytics have opened up new possibilities of using the rich information in electronic medical records (EMRs) to identify relevant risk factors. The 2014 i2b2/UTHealth Challenge brought together researchers and practitioners of clinical natural language processing (NLP) to tackle the identification of heart disease risk factors reported in EMRs. We participated in this track and developed an NLP system by leveraging existing tools and resources, both public and proprietary. Our system was a hybrid of several machine-learning and rule-based components. The system achieved an overall F1 score of 0.9185, with a recall of 0.9409 and a precision of 0.8972.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4977226  PMID: 26279500
Medical records; Risk assessment; Natural language processing; Text classification
2.  Mining Health-Related Issues in Consumer Product Reviews by Using Scalable Text Analytics 
Biomedical Informatics Insights  2016;8(Suppl 1):1-11.
In an era when most of our life activities are digitized and recorded, opportunities abound to gain insights about population health. Online product reviews present a unique data source that is currently underexplored. Health-related information, although scarce, can be systematically mined in online product reviews. Leveraging natural language processing and machine learning tools, we were able to mine 1.3 million grocery product reviews for health-related information. The objectives of the study were as follows: (1) conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis on the types of health issues found in consumer product reviews; (2) develop a machine learning classifier to detect reviews that contain health-related issues; and (3) gain insights about the task characteristics and challenges for text analytics to guide future research.
PMCID: PMC4915789  PMID: 27375358
consumer health informatics; text mining; natural language processing; big data; online product reviews; syndromic surveillance
3.  RLIMS-P 2.0: A Generalizable Rule-Based Information Extraction System for Literature Mining of Protein Phosphorylation Information 
We introduce RLIMS-P version 2.0, an enhanced rule-based information extraction (IE) system for mining kinase, substrate, and phosphorylation site information from scientific literature. Consisting of natural language processing and IE modules, the system has integrated several new features, including the capability of processing full-text articles and generalizability towards different post-translational modifications (PTMs). To evaluate the system, sets of abstracts and full-text articles, containing a variety of textual expressions, were annotated. On the abstract corpus, the system achieved F-scores of 0.91, 0.92, and 0.95 for kinases, substrates, and sites, respectively. The corresponding scores on the full-text corpus were 0.88, 0.91, and 0.92. It was additionally evaluated on the corpus of the 2013 BioNLP-ST GE task, and achieved an F-score of 0.87 for the phosphorylation core task, improving upon the results previously reported on the corpus. Full-scale processing of all abstracts in MEDLINE and all articles in PubMed Central Open Access Subset has demonstrated scalability for mining rich information in literature, enabling its adoption for biocuration and for knowledge discovery. The new system is generalizable and it will be adapted to tackle other major PTM types. RLIMS-P 2.0 online system is available online ( and the developed corpora are available from iProLINK (
PMCID: PMC4568560  PMID: 26357075
Biology and genetics; context analysis and indexing; natural language processing; text mining
4.  A generalizable NLP framework for fast development of pattern-based biomedical relation extraction systems 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(1):285.
Text mining is increasingly used in the biomedical domain because of its ability to automatically gather information from large amount of scientific articles. One important task in biomedical text mining is relation extraction, which aims to identify designated relations among biological entities reported in literature. A relation extraction system achieving high performance is expensive to develop because of the substantial time and effort required for its design and implementation. Here, we report a novel framework to facilitate the development of a pattern-based biomedical relation extraction system. It has several unique design features: (1) leveraging syntactic variations possible in a language and automatically generating extraction patterns in a systematic manner, (2) applying sentence simplification to improve the coverage of extraction patterns, and (3) identifying referential relations between a syntactic argument of a predicate and the actual target expected in the relation extraction task.
A relation extraction system derived using the proposed framework achieved overall F-scores of 72.66% for the Simple events and 55.57% for the Binding events on the BioNLP-ST 2011 GE test set, comparing favorably with the top performing systems that participated in the BioNLP-ST 2011 GE task. We obtained similar results on the BioNLP-ST 2013 GE test set (80.07% and 60.58%, respectively). We conducted additional experiments on the training and development sets to provide a more detailed analysis of the system and its individual modules. This analysis indicates that without increasing the number of patterns, simplification and referential relation linking play a key role in the effective extraction of biomedical relations.
In this paper, we present a novel framework for fast development of relation extraction systems. The framework requires only a list of triggers as input, and does not need information from an annotated corpus. Thus, we reduce the involvement of domain experts, who would otherwise have to provide manual annotations and help with the design of hand crafted patterns. We demonstrate how our framework is used to develop a system which achieves state-of-the-art performance on a public benchmark corpus.
PMCID: PMC4262219  PMID: 25149151
5.  RLIMS-P: an online text-mining tool for literature-based extraction of protein phosphorylation information 
Protein phosphorylation is central to the regulation of most aspects of cell function. Given its importance, it has been the subject of active research as well as the focus of curation in several biological databases. We have developed Rule-based Literature Mining System for protein Phosphorylation (RLIMS-P), an online text-mining tool to help curators identify biomedical research articles relevant to protein phosphorylation. The tool presents information on protein kinases, substrates and phosphorylation sites automatically extracted from the biomedical literature. The utility of the RLIMS-P Web site has been evaluated by curators from Phospho.ELM, PhosphoGRID/BioGrid and Protein Ontology as part of the BioCreative IV user interactive task (IAT). The system achieved F-scores of 0.76, 0.88 and 0.92 for the extraction of kinase, substrate and phosphorylation sites, respectively, and a precision of 0.88 in the retrieval of relevant phosphorylation literature. The system also received highly favorable feedback from the curators in a user survey. Based on the curators’ suggestions, the Web site has been enhanced to improve its usability. In the RLIMS-P Web site, phosphorylation information can be retrieved by PubMed IDs or keywords, with an option for selecting targeted species. The result page displays a sortable table with phosphorylation information. The text evidence page displays the abstract with color-coded entity mentions and includes links to UniProtKB entries via normalization, i.e. the linking of entity mentions to database identifiers, facilitated by the GenNorm tool and by the links to the bibliography in UniProt. Log in and editing capabilities are offered to any user interested in contributing to the validation of RLIMS-P results. Retrieved phosphorylation information can also be downloaded in CSV format and the text evidence in the BioC format. RLIMS-P is freely available.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC4131691  PMID: 25122463
6.  iSimp in BioC standard format: enhancing the interoperability of a sentence simplification system 
This article reports the use of the BioC standard format in our sentence simplification system, iSimp, and demonstrates its general utility. iSimp is designed to simplify complex sentences commonly found in the biomedical text, and has been shown to improve existing text mining applications that rely on the analysis of sentence structures. By adopting the BioC format, we aim to make iSimp readily interoperable with other applications in the biomedical domain. To examine the utility of iSimp in BioC, we implemented a rule-based relation extraction system that uses iSimp as a preprocessing module and BioC for data exchange. Evaluation on the training corpus of BioNLP-ST 2011 GENIA Event Extraction (GE) task showed that iSimp sentence simplification improved the recall by 3.2% without reducing precision. The iSimp simplification-annotated corpora, both our previously used corpus and the GE corpus in the current study, have been converted into the BioC format and made publicly available at the project’s Web site:
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC4028706  PMID: 24850848
7.  An exploratory study of a text classification framework for Internet-based surveillance of emerging epidemics 
Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks is crucial to protecting the public health of a society. Online news articles provide timely information on disease outbreaks worldwide. In this study, we investigated automated detection of articles relevant to disease outbreaks using machine learning classifiers. In a real-life setting, it is expensive to prepare a training data set for classifiers, which usually consists of manually labeled relevant and irrelevant articles. To mitigate this challenge, we examined the use of randomly sampled unlabeled articles as well as labeled relevant articles.
Naïve Bayes and Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifiers were trained on 149 relevant and 149 or more randomly sampled unlabeled articles. Diverse classifiers were trained by varying the number of sampled unlabeled articles and also the number of word features. The trained classifiers were applied to 15 thousand articles published over 15 days. Top-ranked articles from each classifier were pooled and the resulting set of 1337 articles was reviewed by an expert analyst to evaluate the classifiers.
Daily averages of areas under ROC curves (AUCs) over the 15-day evaluation period were 0.841 and 0.836, respectively, for the naïve Bayes and SVM classifier. We referenced a database of disease outbreak reports to confirm that this evaluation data set resulted from the pooling method indeed covered incidents recorded in the database during the evaluation period.
The proposed text classification framework utilizing randomly sampled unlabeled articles can facilitate a cost-effective approach to training machine learning classifiers in a real-life Internet-based biosurveillance project. We plan to examine this framework further using larger data sets and using articles in non-English languages.
PMCID: PMC3904285  PMID: 21134784
Natural language processing; Information storage and retrieval; Medical informatics applications; Disease notification; Disease outbreaks; Biosurveillance; Internet
8.  Detecting concept mentions in biomedical text using hidden Markov model: multiple concept types at once or one at a time? 
Identifying phrases that refer to particular concept types is a critical step in extracting information from documents. Provided with annotated documents as training data, supervised machine learning can automate this process. When building a machine learning model for this task, the model may be built to detect all types simultaneously (all-types-at-once) or it may be built for one or a few selected types at a time (one-type- or a-few-types-at-a-time). It is of interest to investigate which strategy yields better detection performance.
Hidden Markov models using the different strategies were evaluated on a clinical corpus annotated with three concept types (i2b2/VA corpus) and a biology literature corpus annotated with five concept types (JNLPBA corpus). Ten-fold cross-validation tests were conducted and the experimental results showed that models trained for multiple concept types consistently yielded better performance than those trained for a single concept type. F-scores observed for the former strategies were higher than those observed for the latter by 0.9 to 2.6% on the i2b2/VA corpus and 1.4 to 10.1% on the JNLPBA corpus, depending on the target concept types. Improved boundary detection and reduced type confusion were observed for the all-types-at-once strategy.
The current results suggest that detection of concept phrases could be improved by simultaneously tackling multiple concept types. This also suggests that we should annotate multiple concept types in developing a new corpus for machine learning models. Further investigation is expected to gain insights in the underlying mechanism to achieve good performance when multiple concept types are considered.
PMCID: PMC3908466  PMID: 24438362
Natural language processing; Information storage and retrieval; Data mining; Electronic health records
9.  BioC: a minimalist approach to interoperability for biomedical text processing 
A vast amount of scientific information is encoded in natural language text, and the quantity of such text has become so great that it is no longer economically feasible to have a human as the first step in the search process. Natural language processing and text mining tools have become essential to facilitate the search for and extraction of information from text. This has led to vigorous research efforts to create useful tools and to create humanly labeled text corpora, which can be used to improve such tools. To encourage combining these efforts into larger, more powerful and more capable systems, a common interchange format to represent, store and exchange the data in a simple manner between different language processing systems and text mining tools is highly desirable. Here we propose a simple extensible mark-up language format to share text documents and annotations. The proposed annotation approach allows a large number of different annotations to be represented including sentences, tokens, parts of speech, named entities such as genes or diseases and relationships between named entities. In addition, we provide simple code to hold this data, read it from and write it back to extensible mark-up language files and perform some sample processing. We also describe completed as well as ongoing work to apply the approach in several directions. Code and data are available at
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3889917  PMID: 24048470
10.  A framework for biomedical figure segmentation towards image-based document retrieval 
BMC Systems Biology  2013;7(Suppl 4):S8.
The figures included in many of the biomedical publications play an important role in understanding the biological experiments and facts described within. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to integrate the information that is extracted from figures in classical document classification and retrieval tasks in order to improve their accuracy. One important observation about the figures included in biomedical publications is that they are often composed of multiple subfigures or panels, each describing different methodologies or results. The use of these multimodal figures is a common practice in bioscience, as experimental results are graphically validated via multiple methodologies or procedures. Thus, for a better use of multimodal figures in document classification or retrieval tasks, as well as for providing the evidence source for derived assertions, it is important to automatically segment multimodal figures into subfigures and panels. This is a challenging task, however, as different panels can contain similar objects (i.e., barcharts and linecharts) with multiple layouts. Also, certain types of biomedical figures are text-heavy (e.g., DNA sequences and protein sequences images) and they differ from traditional images. As a result, classical image segmentation techniques based on low-level image features, such as edges or color, are not directly applicable to robustly partition multimodal figures into single modal panels.
In this paper, we describe a robust solution for automatically identifying and segmenting unimodal panels from a multimodal figure. Our framework starts by robustly harvesting figure-caption pairs from biomedical articles. We base our approach on the observation that the document layout can be used to identify encoded figures and figure boundaries within PDF files. Taking into consideration the document layout allows us to correctly extract figures from the PDF document and associate their corresponding caption. We combine pixel-level representations of the extracted images with information gathered from their corresponding captions to estimate the number of panels in the figure. Thus, our approach simultaneously identifies the number of panels and the layout of figures.
In order to evaluate the approach described here, we applied our system on documents containing protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and compared the results against a gold standard that was annotated by biologists. Experimental results showed that our automatic figure segmentation approach surpasses pure caption-based and image-based approaches, achieving a 96.64% accuracy. To allow for efficient retrieval of information, as well as to provide the basis for integration into document classification and retrieval systems among other, we further developed a web-based interface that lets users easily retrieve panels containing the terms specified in the user queries.
PMCID: PMC3856606  PMID: 24565394
11.  Coreference analysis in clinical notes: a multi-pass sieve with alternate anaphora resolution modules 
This paper describes the coreference resolution system submitted by Mayo Clinic for the 2011 i2b2/VA/Cincinnati shared task Track 1C. The goal of the task was to construct a system that links the markables corresponding to the same entity.
Materials and methods
The task organizers provided progress notes and discharge summaries that were annotated with the markables of treatment, problem, test, person, and pronoun. We used a multi-pass sieve algorithm that applies deterministic rules in the order of preciseness and simultaneously gathers information about the entities in the documents. Our system, MedCoref, also uses a state-of-the-art machine learning framework as an alternative to the final, rule-based pronoun resolution sieve.
The best system that uses a multi-pass sieve has an overall score of 0.836 (average of B3, MUC, Blanc, and CEAF F score) for the training set and 0.843 for the test set.
A supervised machine learning system that typically uses a single function to find coreferents cannot accommodate irregularities encountered in data especially given the insufficient number of examples. On the other hand, a completely deterministic system could lead to a decrease in recall (sensitivity) when the rules are not exhaustive. The sieve-based framework allows one to combine reliable machine learning components with rules designed by experts.
Using relatively simple rules, part-of-speech information, and semantic type properties, an effective coreference resolution system could be designed. The source code of the system described is available at
PMCID: PMC3422831  PMID: 22707745
Natural language processing; machine learning; information extraction; electronic medical record; coreference resolution; text mining; computational linguistics; named entity recognition; distributional semantics; relationship extraction; information storage and retrieval (text and images)
12.  Pooling annotated corpora for clinical concept extraction 
The availability of annotated corpora has facilitated the application of machine learning algorithms to concept extraction from clinical notes. However, high expenditure and labor are required for creating the annotations. A potential alternative is to reuse existing corpora from other institutions by pooling with local corpora, for training machine taggers. In this paper we have investigated the latter approach by pooling corpora from 2010 i2b2/VA NLP challenge and Mayo Clinic Rochester, to evaluate taggers for recognition of medical problems. The corpora were annotated for medical problems, but with different guidelines. The taggers were constructed using an existing tagging system MedTagger that consisted of dictionary lookup, part of speech (POS) tagging and machine learning for named entity prediction and concept extraction. We hope that our current work will be a useful case study for facilitating reuse of annotated corpora across institutions.
We found that pooling was effective when the size of the local corpus was small and after some of the guideline differences were reconciled. The benefits of pooling, however, diminished as more locally annotated documents were included in the training data. We examined the annotation guidelines to identify factors that determine the effect of pooling.
The effectiveness of pooling corpora, is dependent on several factors, which include compatibility of annotation guidelines, distribution of report types and size of local and foreign corpora. Simple methods to rectify some of the guideline differences can facilitate pooling. Our findings need to be confirmed with further studies on different corpora. To facilitate the pooling and reuse of annotated corpora, we suggest that – i) the NLP community should develop a standard annotation guideline that addresses the potential areas of guideline differences that are partly identified in this paper; ii) corpora should be annotated with a two-pass method that focuses first on concept recognition, followed by normalization to existing ontologies; and iii) metadata such as type of the report should be created during the annotation process.
PMCID: PMC3599895  PMID: 23294871
13.  Using machine learning for concept extraction on clinical documents from multiple data sources 
Concept extraction is a process to identify phrases referring to concepts of interests in unstructured text. It is a critical component in automated text processing. We investigate the performance of machine learning taggers for clinical concept extraction, particularly the portability of taggers across documents from multiple data sources.
We used BioTagger-GM to train machine learning taggers, which we originally developed for the detection of gene/protein names in the biology domain. Trained taggers were evaluated using the annotated clinical documents made available in the 2010 i2b2/VA Challenge workshop, consisting of documents from four data sources.
As expected, performance of a tagger trained on one data source degraded when evaluated on another source, but the degradation of the performance varied depending on data sources. A tagger trained on multiple data sources was robust, and it achieved an F score as high as 0.890 on one data source. The results also suggest that performance of machine learning taggers is likely to improve if more annotated documents are available for training.
Our study shows how the performance of machine learning taggers is degraded when they are ported across clinical documents from different sources. The portability of taggers can be enhanced by training on datasets from multiple sources. The study also shows that BioTagger-GM can be easily extended to detect clinical concept mentions with good performance.
PMCID: PMC3168314  PMID: 21709161
Natural language processing; medical informatics; medical records systems; computerized
14.  Feasibility of pooling annotated corpora for clinical concept extraction 
Availability of annotated corpora has facilitated application of machine learning algorithms to concept extraction from clinical notes. However, it is expensive to prepare annotated corpora in individual institutions, and pooling of annotated corpora from other institutions is a potential solution. In this paper we investigate whether pooling of corpora from two different sources, can improve performance and portability of resultant machine learning taggers for medical problem detection. Specifically, we pool corpora from 2010 i2b2/VA NLP challenge and Mayo Clinic Rochester, to evaluate taggers for recognition of medical problems. Contrary to our expectations, pooling of corpora is found to decrease the F1-score. We examine the annotation guidelines to identify factors for incompatibility of the corpora and suggest development of a standard annotation guideline by the clinical NLP community to allow compatibility of annotated corpora.
PMCID: PMC3392069  PMID: 22779047
15.  The gene normalization task in BioCreative III 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12(Suppl 8):S2.
We report the Gene Normalization (GN) challenge in BioCreative III where participating teams were asked to return a ranked list of identifiers of the genes detected in full-text articles. For training, 32 fully and 500 partially annotated articles were prepared. A total of 507 articles were selected as the test set. Due to the high annotation cost, it was not feasible to obtain gold-standard human annotations for all test articles. Instead, we developed an Expectation Maximization (EM) algorithm approach for choosing a small number of test articles for manual annotation that were most capable of differentiating team performance. Moreover, the same algorithm was subsequently used for inferring ground truth based solely on team submissions. We report team performance on both gold standard and inferred ground truth using a newly proposed metric called Threshold Average Precision (TAP-k).
We received a total of 37 runs from 14 different teams for the task. When evaluated using the gold-standard annotations of the 50 articles, the highest TAP-k scores were 0.3297 (k=5), 0.3538 (k=10), and 0.3535 (k=20), respectively. Higher TAP-k scores of 0.4916 (k=5, 10, 20) were observed when evaluated using the inferred ground truth over the full test set. When combining team results using machine learning, the best composite system achieved TAP-k scores of 0.3707 (k=5), 0.4311 (k=10), and 0.4477 (k=20) on the gold standard, representing improvements of 12.4%, 21.8%, and 26.6% over the best team results, respectively.
By using full text and being species non-specific, the GN task in BioCreative III has moved closer to a real literature curation task than similar tasks in the past and presents additional challenges for the text mining community, as revealed in the overall team results. By evaluating teams using the gold standard, we show that the EM algorithm allows team submissions to be differentiated while keeping the manual annotation effort feasible. Using the inferred ground truth we show measures of comparative performance between teams. Finally, by comparing team rankings on gold standard vs. inferred ground truth, we further demonstrate that the inferred ground truth is as effective as the gold standard for detecting good team performance.
PMCID: PMC3269937  PMID: 22151901
16.  Document classification for mining host pathogen protein-protein interactions 
Scientific findings regarding human pathogens and their host responses are buried in the growing volume of biomedical literature and there is an urgent need to mine information pertaining to pathogenesis-related proteins especially host pathogen protein-protein interactions (HP-PPIs) from literature.
In this paper, we report our exploration of developing an automated system to identify MEDLINE abstracts referring to HP-PPIs. An annotated corpus consisting of 1360 MEDLINE abstracts was generated. With this corpus, we developed and evaluated document classification systems using support vector machines (SVMs). We also investigated the effects of three feature selection methods (information gain, mutual information, and χ2 test). The performance was measured using normalized discounted cumulative gain (NDCG) and positive predictive value (PPV) and all measures were obtained through 10-fold cross validation.
NDCG measures for classification systems using all features or a subset of features selected using information gain and χ2 range from 0.83 to 0.89 while classification systems built based on features selected using mutual information had relatively lower NDCG measures. The classification system achieved a PPV of 50.7% for the top 10% ranked documents comparing to a baseline PPV of 10.0%.
Our results indicate that document classification systems can be constructed to efficiently retrieve HP-PPI related documents. Feature selection was effective in reducing the dimensionality of features to build a compact system.
PMCID: PMC2902599  PMID: 20472411
document classification; host pathogen protein-protein interaction; feature selection; literature mining
17.  dbOGAP - An Integrated Bioinformatics Resource for Protein O-GlcNAcylation 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:91.
Protein O-GlcNAcylation (or O-GlcNAc-ylation) is an O-linked glycosylation involving the transfer of β-N-acetylglucosamine to the hydroxyl group of serine or threonine residues of proteins. Growing evidences suggest that protein O-GlcNAcylation is common and is analogous to phosphorylation in modulating broad ranges of biological processes. However, compared to phosphorylation, the amount of protein O-GlcNAcylation data is relatively limited and its annotation in databases is scarce. Furthermore, a bioinformatics resource for O-GlcNAcylation is lacking, and an O-GlcNAcylation site prediction tool is much needed.
We developed a database of O-GlcNAcylated proteins and sites, dbOGAP, primarily based on literature published since O-GlcNAcylation was first described in 1984. The database currently contains ~800 proteins with experimental O-GlcNAcylation information, of which ~61% are of humans, and 172 proteins have a total of ~400 O-GlcNAcylation sites identified. The O-GlcNAcylated proteins are primarily nucleocytoplasmic, including membrane- and non-membrane bounded organelle-associated proteins. The known O-GlcNAcylated proteins exert a broad range of functions including transcriptional regulation, macromolecular complex assembly, intracellular transport, translation, and regulation of cell growth or death. The database also contains ~365 potential O-GlcNAcylated proteins inferred from known O-GlcNAcylated orthologs. Additional annotations, including other protein posttranslational modifications, biological pathways and disease information are integrated into the database. We developed an O-GlcNAcylation site prediction system, OGlcNAcScan, based on Support Vector Machine and trained using protein sequences with known O-GlcNAcylation sites from dbOGAP. The site prediction system achieved an area under ROC curve of 74.3% in five-fold cross-validation. The dbOGAP website was developed to allow for performing search and query on O-GlcNAcylated proteins and associated literature, as well as for browsing by gene names, organisms or pathways, and downloading of the database. Also available from the website, the OGlcNAcScan tool presents a list of predicted O-GlcNAcylation sites for given protein sequences.
dbOGAP is the first public bioinformatics resource to allow systematic access to the O-GlcNAcylated proteins, and related functional information and bibliography, as well as to an O-GlcNAcylation site prediction tool. The resource will facilitate research on O-GlcNAcylation and its proteomic identification.
PMCID: PMC3083348  PMID: 21466708
18.  BioTagger-GM: A Gene/Protein Name Recognition System 
Biomedical named entity recognition (BNER) is a critical component in automated systems that mine biomedical knowledge in free text. Among different types of entities in the domain, gene/protein would be the most studied one for BNER. Our goal is to develop a gene/protein name recognition system BioTagger-GM that exploits rich information in terminology sources using powerful machine learning frameworks and system combination.
BioTagger-GM consists of four main components: (1) dictionary lookup—gene/protein names in BioThesaurus and biomedical terms in UMLS Metathesaurus are tagged in text, (2) machine learning—machine learning systems are trained using dictionary lookup results as one type of feature, (3) post-processing—heuristic rules are used to correct recognition errors, and (4) system combination—a voting scheme is used to combine recognition results from multiple systems.
The BioCreAtIvE II Gene Mention (GM) corpus was used to evaluate the proposed method. To test its general applicability, the method was also evaluated on the JNLPBA corpus modified for gene/protein name recognition. The performance of the systems was evaluated through cross-validation tests and measured using precision, recall, and F-Measure.
BioTagger-GM achieved an F-Measure of 0.8887 on the BioCreAtIvE II GM corpus, which is higher than that of the first-place system in the BioCreAtIvE II challenge. The applicability of the method was also confirmed on the modified JNLPBA corpus.
The results suggest that terminology sources, powerful machine learning frameworks, and system combination can be integrated to build an effective BNER system.
PMCID: PMC2649315  PMID: 19074302
19.  Support Vector Machine-Based Mucin-Type O-linked Glycosylation Site Prediction Using Enhanced Sequence Feature Encoding 
Glycosylation is a common and complex protein post-translational modification (PTM). In particular, mucin-type O-linked glycosylation is abundant and plays important biological functions. The number of determined glycosylation sites is still small and there remains the need of accurate computational prediction for annotation and functional understanding of proteins. PTM site prediction can be formulated as a machine learning task. An important step in applying machine learning to this task is encoding protein fragments as feature vectors. Here we assess existing encoding methods as well as an enhanced encoding method named composition of monomer spectrum (CMS) using support vector machines (SVMs). SVMs employing the existing encoding methods achieved AUC (area under ROC curve) of 90.3–91.3%, and ones employing CMS achieved AUC of 92.4%. Analysis of different encoding methods suggests the potential in further improving the prediction.
PMCID: PMC2815398  PMID: 20351933
20.  Overview of BioCreative II gene mention recognition 
Genome Biology  2008;9(Suppl 2):S2.
Nineteen teams presented results for the Gene Mention Task at the BioCreative II Workshop. In this task participants designed systems to identify substrings in sentences corresponding to gene name mentions. A variety of different methods were used and the results varied with a highest achieved F1 score of 0.8721. Here we present brief descriptions of all the methods used and a statistical analysis of the results. We also demonstrate that, by combining the results from all submissions, an F score of 0.9066 is feasible, and furthermore that the best result makes use of the lowest scoring submissions.
PMCID: PMC2559986  PMID: 18834493
21.  A comparison study on algorithms of detecting long forms for short forms in biomedical text 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 9):S5.
With more and more research dedicated to literature mining in the biomedical domain, more and more systems are available for people to choose from when building literature mining applications. In this study, we focus on one specific kind of literature mining task, i.e., detecting definitions of acronyms, abbreviations, and symbols in biomedical text. We denote acronyms, abbreviations, and symbols as short forms (SFs) and their corresponding definitions as long forms (LFs). The study was designed to answer the following questions; i) how well a system performs in detecting LFs from novel text, ii) what the coverage is for various terminological knowledge bases in including SFs as synonyms of their LFs, and iii) how to combine results from various SF knowledge bases.
We evaluated the following three publicly available detection systems in detecting LFs for SFs: i) a handcrafted pattern/rule based system by Ao and Takagi, ALICE, ii) a machine learning system by Chang et al., and iii) a simple alignment-based program by Schwartz and Hearst. In addition, we investigated the conceptual coverage of two terminological knowledge bases: i) the UMLS (the Unified Medical Language System), and ii) the BioThesaurus (a thesaurus of names for all UniProt protein records). We also implemented a web interface that provides a virtual integration of various SF knowledge bases.
We found that detection systems agree with each other on most cases, and the existing terminological knowledge bases have a good coverage of synonymous relationship for frequently defined LFs. The web interface allows people to detect SF definitions from text and to search several SF knowledge bases.
The web site is .
PMCID: PMC2217663  PMID: 18047706
22.  Quantitative Assessment of Dictionary-based Protein Named Entity Tagging 
Natural language processing (NLP) approaches have been explored to manage and mine information recorded in biological literature. A critical step for biological literature mining is biological named entity tagging (BNET) that identifies names mentioned in text and normalizes them with entries in biological databases. The aim of this study was to provide quantitative assessment of the complexity of BNET on protein entities through BioThesaurus, a thesaurus of gene/protein names for UniProt knowledgebase (UniProtKB) entries that was acquired using online resources.
We evaluated the complexity through several perspectives: ambiguity (i.e., the number of genes/proteins represented by one name), synonymy (i.e., the number of names associated with the same gene/protein), and coverage (i.e., the percentage of gene/protein names in text included in the thesaurus). We also normalized names in BioThesaurus and measures were obtained twice, once before normalization and once after.
The current version of BioThesaurus has over 2.6 million names or 2.1 million normalized names covering more than 1.8 million UniProtKB entries. The average synonymy is 3.53 (2.86 after normalization), ambiguity is 2.31 before normalization and 2.32 after, while the coverage is 94.0% based on the BioCreAtive data set comprising MEDLINE abstracts containing genes/proteins.
The study indicated that names for genes/proteins are highly ambiguous and there are usually multiple names for the same gene or protein. It also demonstrated that most gene/protein names appearing in text can be found in BioThesaurus.
PMCID: PMC1561801  PMID: 16799122
23.  Enhancing Acronym/Abbreviation Knowledge Bases with Semantic Information 
In the biomedical domain, a terminology knowledge base that associates acronyms/abbreviations (denoted as SFs) with the definitions (denoted as LFs) is highly needed. For the construction such terminology knowledge base, we investigate the feasibility to build a system automatically assigning semantic categories to LFs extracted from text.
Given a collection of pairs (SF,LF) derived from text, we i) assess the coverage of LFs and pairs (SF,LF) in the UMLS and justify the need of a semantic category assignment system; and ii) automatically derive name phrases annotated with semantic category and construct a system using machine learning.
Utilizing ADAM, an existing collection of (SF,LF) pairs extracted from MEDLINE, our system achieved an f-measure of 87% when assigning eight UMLS-based semantic groups to LFs. The system has been incorporated into a web interface which integrates SF knowledge from multiple SF knowledge bases.
Web site:
PMCID: PMC2655902  PMID: 18693933

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