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The OBO Foundry: coordinated evolution of ontologies to support biomedical data integration.

The value of any kind of data is greatly enhanced when it exists in a form that allows it to be integrated with other data. One approach to integration is through the annotation of multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or 'ontologies'. Unfortunately, the very success of this approach has led to a proliferation of ontologies, which itself creates obstacles to integration. The Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) consortium is pursuing a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing coordinated reform, and new ontologies are being created on the basis of an evolving set of shared principles governing ontology development. The result is an expanding family of ontologies designed to be interoperable and logically well formed and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe this OBO Foundry initiative and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved.

Pubmed ID: 17989687


  • Smith B
  • Ashburner M
  • Rosse C
  • Bard J
  • Bug W
  • Ceusters W
  • Goldberg LJ
  • Eilbeck K
  • Ireland A
  • Mungall CJ
  • OBI Consortium
  • Leontis N
  • Rocca-Serra P
  • Ruttenberg A
  • Sansone SA
  • Scheuermann RH
  • Shah N
  • Whetzel PL
  • Lewis S


Nature biotechnology

Publication Data

November 8, 2007

Associated Grants

  • Agency: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Id: BB/E025080/1
  • Agency: Medical Research Council, Id: G8225539
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R15 GM055898
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R15 GM055898-04
  • Agency: NHGRI NIH HHS, Id: U54 HG004028
  • Agency: NHGRI NIH HHS, Id: U54 HG004028-01
  • Agency: NHGRI NIH HHS, Id: U54 HG004028-02

Mesh Terms

  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Nervous System
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Vocabulary, Controlled