Barend Mons appointed as professor at LUMC on behalf of NBIC
10 Jul 2012
Dr. Barend Mons, scientific director of NBIC, has been appointed as professor in Biosemantics at the Leiden University Medical Center. The chair is established by the Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre (NBIC).
Mons: “I feel honored with this appointment, not only for me personally, but also because it is the acknowledgment of the growing impact of the fledgling discipline of Biosemantics. This recognition will also serve the adoption of the semantic web approach to knowledge exchange and discovery in the international arena and it signifies the leading role of Dutch researchers in this field. I feel very privileged to work with all the wonderful and pioneering people in the Biosemantics groups”.
The Biosemantics group is a structural collaboration between two research groups on this topic in Leiden (LUMC) and Rotterdam (EMC). The groups focus on “in silico knowledge discovery” in the life sciences. The Rotterdam group is medically oriented and the Leiden group is more focused on basic human genetics. The overall aim is to structure data and information into computer readable formats (in silico), in order to reason over multiple big data sets and to recognize novel patterns (knowledge discovery).
Examples of computer readable structured data formats are Concept Profiles, Knowlets and Nanopublications. Recently, The Value of Data, a visionary paper proposing a next generation data-publishing model in Nature Genetics had been published by Mons et al. The approach is championed by one of the major projects of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) called Open PHACTS. A start has been made with the Concept Web Alliance to set up an international nanopublication sandbox database, called: the ‘nanopub’.
Ruben Kok, managing director of NBIC: “NBIC has established this chair in Biosemantics, because the discipline will be crucial for ‘reading’ and interpreting the growing amount of life science data”. Furthermore the semantic web approach pioneered by the Biosemantics group and the Concept Web Alliance in which NBIC is involved in a leadership role will be crucial in the wider field of semantic interoperability of data for many other purposes that those of the Biosemantics research groups. The technology is essentially discipline-neutral and can be used across the ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘white’ sectors in biology and even beyond life sciences. Hence this will be a crucial field to include in the developments of DTL and DISC.