Integrating systems biology models and biomedical ontologies

Robert Hoehndorf, Michel Dumontier, John H. Gennari, Sarala Wimalaratne, Bernard de Bono, Daniel L. Cook, Georgios V. Gkoutos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (SciVal)
134 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Systems biology is an approach to biology that emphasizes the structure and dynamic behavior of biological systems and the interactions that occur within them. To succeed, systems biology crucially depends on the accessibility and integration of data across domains and levels of granularity. Biomedical ontologies were developed to facilitate such an integration of data and are often used to annotate biosimulation models in systems biology.

RESULTS: We provide a framework to integrate representations of in silico systems biology with those of in vivo biology as described by biomedical ontologies, and demonstrate this framework using the Systems Biology Markup Language. We developed the SBML Harvester software that automatically converts annotated SBML models into OWL, and we apply our software to those biosimulation models that are contained in the BioModels Database. We utilize the resulting knowledge base for complex biological queries that can bridge levels of granularity, verify models based on the biological phenomenon they represent and provide a means to establish a basic qualitative layer on which to express the semantics of biosimulation models.

CONCLUSIONS: We establish an information flow between biomedical ontologies and biosimulation models, and we demonstrate that the integration of annotated biosimulation models and biomedical ontologies enables the verification of models as well as expressive queries. Establishing a bi-directional information flow between systems biology and biomedical ontologies has the potential to enable large-scale analyses of biological systems that span levels of granularity from molecules to organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalBMC Systems Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Integrating systems biology models and biomedical ontologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this