Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 4 (2003), Issue 1, Pages 94-97
Conference paper

Turning Informal Thesauri into Formal Ontologies: A Feasibility Study on Biomedical Knowledge Re-Use

Text Knowledge Engineering Laboratory, Natural Language Processing Division, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Werthmannplatz 1, Freiburg D-79085 , Germany

Received 15 November 2002; Accepted 3 December 2002

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper reports a large-scale knowledge conversion and curation experiment. Biomedical domain knowledge from a semantically weak and shallow terminological resource, the UMLS, is transformed into a rigorous description logics format. This way, the broad coverage of the UMLS is combined with inference mechanisms for consistency and cycle checking. They are the key to proper cleansing of the knowledge directly imported from the UMLS, as well as subsequent updating, maintenance and refinement of large knowledge repositories. The emerging biomedical knowledge base currently comprises more than 240 000 conceptual entities and hence constitutes one of the largest formal knowledge repositories ever built.