2002 Meeting - Edmonton

A Semantic Web of Bioinformatics Resources

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8 August 2002

Organised by Robert Stevens (chair); Peter Karp, Carole Goble, Pat Hayes, Robin McEntire, Richard Chen and Eric Neumann from the Bio-Ontologies Consortium

About the Meeting

We would like to invite you to the fifth Annual Bio-Ontologies Meeting (Bio-Ontologies 2002), at the Weston Hotel, on August 8th in Edmonton, Canada. This is immediately after the ISMB-02 August 3-7 in Edmonton.

A Semantic Web of Bioinformatics Resources

The Semantic Web is a new initiative by the W3C to move the Web from being only human understandable, to being both human and machine understandable. The Web's content is largely formed around natural language and images; this can be read and understood by humans, but can be read and not understood by computers. If we wish computers to perform even moderately sophisticated tasks for us, then the information and knowledge on Web pages needs to be processable by computers. The mechanism by which Web pages' content and the services they offer can be made processable or understandable by computers are ontologies. The knowledge held on a Web page or site is captured in an ontology. The content and services on offer can then be marked up with concepts from that ontology. As an ontology is domain knowledge captured in a form understandable both by humans and computers, the knowledge on the Web can be made computationally accessible.

The situation in bioinformatics resources is a microcosm of that of the Web as a whole. Bioinformatics resources are knowledge rich entities, but for the most part, that knowledge is in the form of natural language annotations. Such annotations are fine for humans to understand, but do not support analyses by computer. As the quantity of richly annotated data increases, the need to make biological knowledge accessible by computers also increases. So, we need ontologies that describe the world of biology and bioinformatics. Not only will conceptual annotation make recall and precision of resource queries better, but support for bioinformatics analyses will improve, as will be location and manipulation of resources and services by bioinformatics applications.

Thus, the Semantic Web can act as a vision for the bio-ontology community. Indeed, bioinformatics is already seen as a suitable research area for the Semantic Web. Indeed, we already have many of the components available for us to make a Semantic Web of Bioinformatics resources. There are several well developed domain ontologies, as well as description of bioinformatics services in the pipe-line. the conceptual annotation of data proceeds apace. As applications appear to exploit these resources with computationally accessible knowledge, then we will have a new era of Web based bioinformatics.

Topics that will be discussed at the meeting will include, but not be limited to:

Meeting Details

Please submit two page abstracts (approximately 1000 words) to Robert.Stevens@cs.man.ac.uk. These abstracts will be reviewed by a small programme committee. There will be three kinds of talk at the day-long meeting:

Those abstracts accepted will be placed upon the meeting Web site and made available in a booklet to meeting participants.


The meeting will be held on August 8th in Edmonton, Canada. Attendees are expected to make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation (we assume most will simply extend their bookings for ISMB). For more information on hotels with special ISMB conference rates, see ISMB Hotels.


Registration will be on line. It will be possible to register at the ISMB conference and on the day of the meeting itself. All registrants who are also registering for ISMB will be registered for the satellite meeting on the 8th at the same time. Those that are only attending on the day will be able to register onsite.

The Bio-Ontologies Consortium

The goal of the Bio-Ontology consortium is the identification and promotion of a practical set of technologies that will aid in the knowledge management and exchange of concepts and representations in the life sciences. The first meeting took place in Montreal in 1998, and made clear the general interest and support people had for ontologies in the life sciences. The following year in Heidelberg we discussed ontology exchange and presented ontologies currently under development. the third meeting, in La Jolla, California, USA, continued this theme, reporting several new ontologies and presenting up-dates on existing ontologies. The fourth bio-ontologies meeting had 150 participants and a wide range of bio-ontology work was presented. We hope to build upon this diversity and enthusiasm again this year.