Wanting what we don't want to want: Representing Addiction in Interoperable Bio-Ontologies

In Ronald Cornet & Robert Stevens (eds.), Proceeedings of the Third International Conference on Biomedical Ontology. CEUR. pp. 56-60 (2012)
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Ontologies are being developed throughout the biomedical sciences to address standardization, integration, classification and reasoning needs against the background of an increasingly data-driven research paradigm. In particular, ontologies facilitate the translation of basic research into benefits for the patient by making research results more discoverable and by facilitating knowledge transfer across disciplinary boundaries. Addressing and adequately treating mental illness is one of our most pressing public health challenges. Primary research across multiple disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, biology, neuroscience and pharmacology needs to be integrated in order to promote a more comprehensive understanding of underlying processes and mechanisms, and this need for integration only becomes more pressing with our increase in understanding of differences among individuals and populations at the molecular level concerning susceptibility to specific illnesses. Substance addiction is a particularly relevant public health challenge in the developed world, affecting a substantial percentage of the population, often co-morbid with other illnesses such as mood disorders. Currently, however, there is no straightforward automated method to combine data of relevance to the study of substance addiction across multiple disciplines and populations. In this contribution, we describe a framework of interlinked, interoperable bio-ontologies for the annotation of primary research data relating to substance addiction, and discuss how this framework enables easy integration of results across disciplinary boundaries. We describe entities and relationships relevant for the description of addiction within the Mental Functioning Ontology, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest Ontology, Protein Ontology, Gene Ontology and the Neuroscience Information Framework ontologies.

Author Profiles

Kevin Mulligan
University of Geneva
Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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