CodeX Speaker Series with Professor Mark Musen
February 15, 2012 12:45pm - 2:00pm
About the event: Ontologies and controlled terminologies have played important roles in biomedicine. From the London Bills of Mortality, created in the seventeenth century, to the Gene Ontology, a resource developed during the past decade as an essential tool for work in many areas of modern biology, the biomedical community has latched onto the idea of developing formal representations of professional knowledge. Workers in health care and in the life sciences now take it for granted that professional societies will develop and promote the use of codified knowledge online. At the same time, the rush to develop formal ontologies in biomedicine has led to some rather questionable decision making. Governments have mandated the use of ontologies in health care that are based on flawed models or flawed use of knowledge-representation systems. Biologists have been sold on the promise of "ontological realism" as a foundation for scientific ontologies—boxing them into a difficult philosophical corner. In this talk, I will examine the history of formal ontology in biomedicine, and I will discuss some of the technical and political difficulties that now confront workers in biomedicine. The experience in the life sciences and clinical arena has obvious implications for attempts to formalize and disseminate legal knowledge online.
About Dr. Mark Musen: Dr. Musen is Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Stanford University, where he is Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research. He holds an MD from Brown University and a PhD from Stanford. Dr. Musen conducts research related to intelligent systems, the Semantic Web, reusable ontologies and knowledge representations, and biomedical decision support.