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Biomedical Ontologies and Controlled Vocabularies

Information about and resources for working with biomedical ontologies and controlled vocabularies.

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Marisa Conte
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Created and maintained by Lynne Frederickson, Informationist, Data Standards and Terminologies

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What is an Ontology?

When used in computer and information science, the term ontology refers to relationship-based hierarchical descriptions of concepts within a particular domain, such as biomedicine. Ontologies are used within the semantic web to capture a common language for reuse and reapplication in computer systems, improving efficiency and flexibility between systems, and aiding in natural language processing.

Ontologies are used in the biomedical and health sciences in areas ranging from gene function, as seen in the gene ontology GO, to those used in healthcare informatics such as the International Classification of Diseases, ICD.

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