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ABSTRACT: Ontologies can provide a conceptualization of a domain leading to a common vocabulary for communities of researchers and important standards to facilitate computation, software interoperability and data reuse. Most successful ontologies, especially those that have been developed by diverse communities over long periods of time, are typically large and complex. To address this complexity, ontology authoring and browsing tools must provide cognitive support to improve comprehension of the many concepts and relationships in ontologies. Also, ontology tools must support collaboration as the heart of ontology design and use is centered on community consensus.
In this talk, I will describe how standardized ontologies are developed and used in the biomedical and clinical domains to aid in scientific and medical discoveries. Specifically, I will present how the US National Center for Biomedical Ontology has designed the BioPortal ontology library (and associated technologies) to promote the use of standardized ontologies and tools. I will review how BioPortal and other ontology tools use established and novel visualization and collaboration approaches to improve ontology authoring and data curation activities. I will also discuss an ambitious project by the World Health Organization that leverages the use of social media to broaden participation in the development of the next version of the International Classification of Diseases. To conclude, I will discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise from using ontologies to bridge communities that manage and curate important information resources.