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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 354-361
Research paper

Mapping the Gene Ontology Into the Unified Medical Language System

1European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SD, UK
2National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, USA

Received 5 August 2003; Revised 9 March 2004; Accepted 16 March 2004

Copyright © 2004 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.


We have recently mapped the Gene Ontology (GO), developed by the Gene Ontology Consortium, into the National Library of Medicine's Unified Medical Language System (UMLS). GO has been developed for the purpose of annotating gene products in genome databases, and the UMLS has been developed as a framework for integrating large numbers of disparate terminologies, primarily for the purpose of providing better access to biomedical information sources. The mapping of GO to UMLS highlighted issues in both terminology systems. After some initial explorations and discussions between the UMLS and GO teams, the GO was integrated with the UMLS. Overall, a total of 23% of the GO terms either matched directly (3%) or linked (20%) to existing UMLS concepts. All GO terms now have a corresponding, official UMLS concept, and the entire vocabulary is available through the web-based UMLS Knowledge Source Server. The mapping of the Gene Ontology, with its focus on structures, processes and functions at the molecular level, to the existing broad coverage UMLS should contribute to linking the language and practices of clinical medicine to the language and practices of genomics.