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Ontologies for the life sciences

Part 4. Bioinformatics

4.7. Structuring and Integrating Data

Specialist Review

  1. Steffen Schulze-Kremer1,
  2. Barry Smith2,3

Published Online: 15 NOV 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047001153X.g408213

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

How to Cite

Schulze-Kremer, S. and Smith, B. 2005. Ontologies for the life sciences. Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics. 4:4.7:80.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Universtät Hannover, Hannover, Germany

  2. 2

    Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

  3. 3

    University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 NOV 2005


Where humans can manipulate and integrate the information they receive in subtle and ever-changing ways from context to context, computers need structured and context-free background information of a sort that ontologies can help to provide. A domain ontology captures the stable, highly general, and commonly accepted core knowledge for an application domain. The domain at issue here is that of the life sciences, in particular, molecular biology and bioinformatics. Contemporary life science research includes components drawn from physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and many other areas, and all of these dimensions, as well as fundamental philosophical issues, must be taken into account in the construction of a domain ontology. Here we describe the basic features of domain ontologies in the life sciences and show how they can be used.


  • domain ontology;
  • molecular biology;
  • bioinformatics;
  • philosophy