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Relations in biomedical ontologies

Barry Smith12*, Werner Ceusters3, Bert Klagges4, Jacob Köhler5, Anand Kumar1, Jane Lomax6, Chris Mungall7, Fabian Neuhaus1, Alan L Rector8 and Cornelius Rosse9

Author affiliations

1 Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science, Saarland University, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany

2 Department of Philosophy, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA

3 European Centre for Ontological Research, Saarland University, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany

4 Department of Genetics, University of Leipzig, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

5 Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, UK

6 European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, CB10 1SD, UK

7 HHMI, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94729, USA

8 Department of Computer Science, University of Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

9 Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

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Citation and License

Genome Biology 2005, 6:R46  doi:10.1186/gb-2005-6-5-r46

Published: 28 April 2005

Abstract

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.