Semantic Web Applications and Tools for Healthcare and Life Sciences
11th International SWAT4HCLS Conference, Antwerp 2018


This year’s Keynotes are:

How Does Data Science Impact the Semantic Web?

In establishing data science initiatives, first within a major US federal agency (The National Institutes of Health) and now with a major public university (The University of Virginia) one continues to encounter tension I will attribute here to different modes of discovery – looking for a needle in a haystack versus purposeful navigation of semantic content. Over-simply perhaps, also stated as the tension between working with structured versus unstructured data. A subject for which there can be endless debate. Viewed through my simplistic lens as a researcher who wants to maximize their chances of discovery, I embrace both semantically rich as well as poorly characterized, often large data blobs. What emerges? How do we train across this  divide? How do we structure our organizations to maximize success given such a data and knowledge landscape? Far from having answers I will present what we are doing to address these questions as much as to attempt to crowd source answers to weighty questions.

Philip Bourne

Philip Bourne
Philip E. Bourne, PhD, FACMI is the Stephenson Chair of Data Science, Director of the Data Science Institute and a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia.
Prior to that he was the Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS; aka Chief Data Scientist) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). In his role as ADDS he led the trans NIH US $110M per year Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) research initiative and contributed to data policies and infrastructure aimed at accelerating biomedical discovery. Examples include: establishing the NIH Commons, support for data and software citation and establishing preprints as a supported form of research. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Bourne was Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Industry Alliances in the Office of Research Affairs and a Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Bourne is a Past President of the International Society for Computational Biology, an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and an inductee of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He has published over 350 papers and 5 books and co-founded 4 companies. Awards include the Jim Gray Award eScience Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award.

Homepage – Linkedin – Twitter.


Semantic Web and the New Industrial Revolution

Data has come a long way.  From humble roots as a computer science discipline and data centers that the business viewed as annoying cost-centers, we have moved through data-driven companies to industries where data is their main product.  Today, many companies can no longer operate without the insights they derive from data.  We’ve seen Big Data become a thing, leading on to machine learning and deep learning.  We now have professionals with 20 years experience as Data Scientists, even though that title was unheard of even a decade ago. The essential importance of data is recognized in every industry.  Recent developments around the use and abuse of personal data, coupled with the ubiquity of social media, have raised awareness of the importance of data in the public sphere.
At each stage of this revolution, we have seen — and so far, overcome — new challenges of dealing with data.  Big Data dealt with volume and velocity of data; NoSQL dealt with the variety of data. But as data applications move from the enterprise level (using data to help my business) to an industrial level (using data to progress entire industries), we face the challenge of interoperable meaning of data.  How can we understand what our data means, so that we can use it on an industrial scale?
The Semantic Web has been dealing with data meaning for decades, and was designed to deal with data integration on a world-wide scale (hence its roots in the world-wide web). It is now enjoying success on an industrial scale in industries such Life Sciences, Healthcare, Finance, Agriculture, and Media.  These industries recognize the need for data integration on a world-wide scale and have made strides toward making it a reality.
In this talk, I will review these efforts, compare the challenges they face, and examine the challenges ahead.

Dean Allemang

Dean AllemangDean Allemang is CEO and Principal Consultant at Working Ontologist, LLC, a firm devoted to the deployment of Semantic Web solutions.  In this capacity, he has provided industrial-strength semantic solutions in a variety of industries, including finance, media, and government. He has served on review boards for semantic web programs for pharmaceuticals, health care and agriculture. As a long-time traveller in knowledge science (PhD in AI in 1990, worked at five different AI labs in Europe in the early 90’s, and co-founded one of those companies in the late 90’s that tried to invent the Semantic Web when the standards were just a gleam in the eye of a few W3C folks), Dean has a broad perspective on how knowledge-based systems can be appied in a variety of contexts. Dean co-author of Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist, the best-selling book on the Semantic Web, and is expert on the W3C semantic web standards, including RDF, RDFS, OWL, SPARL, SKOS and SHACL. With a PhD in Computer Science (as a NSF Fellow at Ohio State) and a MSc in Pure Mathematics (as a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge), he brings a formal approach to semantic modeling, which he couples with over 15 years experience of successful business deployments of knowledge technology. Dean is a repeat winner of the Swiss Technology Center award for Innovation.



Spinning a Semantic Web for Agriculture

CGIAR is a global research partnership of 15 Centers primarily located in developing countries, working in the agricultural research for development sector.
The CGIAR system is charged with tackling challenges at a variety of scales from the local to the global, which generally means being able to query and/or aggregate a variety of data types and streams. CGIAR aspires to FAIRness in its research outputs, and while progress is being made, the I of FAIR is the frog that doesn’t readily turn into a prince for the FAIR ringmistress in this tale. Yet, interoperability – particularly semantic interoperability— is critical to providing meaning and context to CGIAR’s varied information resources and enabling integration between linked or related data (e.g. an agronomic data set and related socioeconomic data).

CGIAR’s approach to interoperability and data harmonization focuses on the use of standard vocabularies, and strong reliance on ontologies developed across CGIAR (efforts such as the Crop Ontology, the Agronomy Ontology – AgrO, the in-development socioeconomic ontology – SociO), and other entities (ENVO, UO, PO etc.) Spinning these into a semantic web for agriculture is a primary focus of the CGIAR’s Big Data Platform for Agriculture, and its Global Agricultural Research Data Innovation and Acceleration Network (GARDIAN). GARDIAN is intended to provide seamless, semantically-linked access to CGIAR publications and data, to demonstrate the full value of CGIAR research, enable new analyses and discovery, and enhance impact.

In this talk, I will discuss CGIAR’s path to a FAIRy tale ending, complete with the sticky considerations entailed in web-spinning.

Medha Devare

Medha DevareMedha Devare Ph.D. is Senior Research Fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She led the CGIAR System‘s Open Access/Open Data Initiative, and currently leads efforts to organize data and enable semantic interoperability across CGIAR’s 15 agriculture for development-focused Centers through its Big Data Platform. Medha is a Cropping Systems Agronomist with significant experience leading projects addressing food security and sustainable resource management in South Asia. She also has expertise in data management and semantic web tools; while at Cornell University, she was instrumental in the development of VIVO, a semantic web application for representing academic scholarship.