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twoday.net AGB

W3C launches a Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group

The W3C announced a launch of a Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group today.

The Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group is designed to improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation adoption in the health care and life science industries. Aiding decision-making in clinical research, Semantic Web technologies will bridge many forms of biological and medical information across institutions.


What looks like straight from a buzzword generator might substantially enhance the current (babylonic) state of biological databases. Greg over at Nodalpoint recently summarized how RDF, SPARQL et al could help for the integration of bioinformatics resources, including practical problems and support through larger communities (or lack thereof).

There is a substantial increase in such techniques recently and I would not be surprised if they will finally deliver what bioinformaticians have been waiting for (and trying to achieve with other approaches) - integrating the vast amounts of biological data in a flexible way.

One of the challenges to such a system that the W3C cannot address is the availability of the information in a stable and usable form - the EBI can allocate the resources to offer Uniprot in XML but a small lab performing a high throughput screen usually does not have the necessary skills in the lab and will not put their data online in a highly abstracted way unless it hinders publication. On the other hand, I don't expect that journals will raise their standard for publications soon - after all, the format of the information is a lesser part of value of a research publication and the abundance of data is only comparable to those of the possible standards.

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