Second “Evolutionary Biology & Ontologies” workshop

Our second “Evolutionary Biology & Ontologies Workshop” was held at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meetings in Boston (January 5, 2009).  It was organized by the Phenoscape PIs (Paula Mabee, Todd Vision, Monte Westerfield), NESCent and Barry Smith from the National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO).  In our morning of talks, our speakers provided the audience with a solid introduction to ontologies, annotations, curation tools, databases, and examples of the integrative questions that can be answered using them.   The speakers, titles, and slides for these talks are available through the links below, and they provide an instructive resource for the community.

  • Barry Smith – An introduction to ontologies for evolutionary biologists
  • Monte Westerfield – Linking animal models and human diseases
  • Paula Mabee – Phenoscape: extending model organism ontologies for devo-studies of evolutionary phenotypes
  • Wasila Dahdul – Challenges of developing multi-species anatomy ontologies
  • Todd Vision – Software and database resources for curation and management of evolutionary phenotypes
  • Andy Deans – Developing a Hymenopteran ontology
  • Peter Midford – Comparative Analysis of behavior using ontologies
  • Anne Maglia – Developing an amphibian ontology

Because the use of ontologies is just emerging in evolutionary biology, we need to work as a community to determine and implement best practices.  The requirements and challenges of creating and using ontologies in evolutionary biology are mainly not unique to the domain, and we can learn a great deal from the logicians, ontologists, and biologists who have connected data using ontologies in the biomedical domain.  This workshop demonstrated how critical and profitable this intersection in knowledge domains promises to be.

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