Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Charter for the W3C Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group

Last week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved a new charter for its Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group (HCLSIG), in which I (Carleton University) along with Charlie Mead (NIH CBIIT) and Vijay Bulusu (Pfizer) were selected as co-chairs. This new charter directs us to develop, advocate and support the use of Semantic Web technologies for translational medicine and its three enabling domains: life sciences, clinical research and health care. While the core HCLSIG values - simplicity, pragmatism, effectiveness - remain firmly in place, Charlie, Vijay and I hope to make subtle changes to the operational strategy such that our efforts become increasingly recognized as critical in conferences and boardrooms across the globe.

As always, the HCLSIG will create both prototype implementations that demonstrate the value of formalizing and sharing knowledge using Semantic Web technologies. We will marshal our efforts towards fulfilling compelling use cases that have intrinsic value to not just W3C members, but ideally to a larger number of outside benefactors. Thus, our experts will now develop these use cases such that a priori we have a clearer picture of the rationale of the project, its resources, milestones and deliverables, and ultimately, which organizations and communities will directly and indirectly benefit. Coupled with an effective dissemination strategy including leverage our combined social networks, we hope to maximize the impact of the work of our members in this emerging area of knowledge management.

 As part of our dissemination strategy, we also intend to produce more member contributions that describe methods for basic and advanced tasks, in addition to publishing recommendations arising from consensus among our members. Such recommendations will endorse and specify the use of terminological resources in the long term context of semantic interoperability across the three core domains. Thus, participation in the HCLSIG will be critical for those wanting to advocate RDF-representations of data, OWL representations of ontologies, for the purposes of semantic annotation and large scale, semantic integration of biomedical data.

 With that, we invite non-members to join the W3C and work with our strong compliment of experts in what will surely be an exciting and productive time over the next few years for the W3C HCLSIG.

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