An ontology-based comparative anatomy information system

Introduction: This paper describes the design, implementation, and potential use of a comparative anatomy information system (CAIS) for querying on similarities and differences between homologous anatomical structures across species, the knowledge base it operates upon, the method it uses for determining the answers to the queries, and the user interface it employs to present the results. The relevant informatics contributions of our work include (1) the development and application of the structural difference method, a formalism for symbolically representing anatomical similarities and differences across species; (2) the design of the structure of a mapping between the anatomical models of two different species and its application to information about specific structures in humans, mice, and rats; and (3) the design of the internal syntax and semantics of the query language. These contributions provide the foundation for the development of a working system that allows users to submit queries about the similarities and differences between mouse, rat, and human anatomy; delivers result sets that describe those similarities and differences in symbolic terms; and serves as a prototype for the extension of the knowledge base to any number of species. Additionally, we expanded the domain knowledge by identifying medically relevant structural questions for the human, the mouse, and the rat, and made an initial foray into the validation of the application and its content by means of user questionnaires, software testing, and other feedback.

Published in:
Artificial Intelligence In Medicine, 51, 1-15

 Record created 2011-12-16, last modified 2018-03-17

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