Common language for biomedical fields is goal of UB conference

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UB philosopher Barry Smith has devoted his professional life to developing a common language for use by those in the life sciences field. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE
Published: July 4, 2011

Hundreds of international scientists from dozens of biomedical fields will meet later this month at UB seeking a common language with which to energize cross-disciplinary research.

The International Conference on Biomedical Ontology will take place July 26-30, and conference convener Barry Smith says attendees have a common goal: to enable all of the data produced by the entire spectrum of life sciences to be easily retrieved and understood by those working in all biomedical fields, from the molecular to the global scale.

“It is a huge order,” Smith says, “little understood by the general public and difficult to achieve, but absolutely necessary for the continued development of biomedical science. It promises benefits in some ways similar to those brought to physics by the standardization of units of measure in the 18th century.”

The goal is so important, that Smith, an internationally recognized medical ontologist and Julian Park Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB Department of Philosophy, has devoted his professional life to this endeavor.

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