Biomedical Information Science Technology Initiative Planning Grant

On January 1, 2003 the University Washington was awarded a 3 year grant (January 1, 2003-Nov 30, 2005) from the National Library of Medicine to plan for a National Center of Excellence in Biomedical Computing as part of the NIH Biomedical Information Science Technology Initiative (BISTI), grant number P20 LM007714.  We are currently in a no-cost extension through Nov 30, 2006. The planning grant is a joint effort among faculty and students in  the Department of Biological Structure and the Division of Biomedical and Health Informatics (BHI), Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics, with strong collaborations from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering

As noted in the abstract and specific aims of the proposal, the primary scientific goal of our efforts is to develop methods that will help to bring about an information framework that links together diverse types of biomedical data and knowledge in a large scale distributed information system. The specific activities of the planning grant to reach this goal are organized by four cores and three projects. The following provides a few highlights of work in these areas:

Cores: Planning, Administration, Computer, Education

Much of the initial effort for the planning core was the preparation of a proposal for a full BISTI Center. Although this proposal was not subsequently funded, the planning process, as well as the specific development projects, have resulted in several research products, as well as new initiatives that we are pursuing as part of the overall mission of the Biomedical and Health Informatics (BHI) Program at the University of Washington.


Perhaps the most important outcome of this planning process is the realization that BHI  has particular strengths in local lab data management,  data integration, ontology development and alignment, content-based retrieval, and visualization, all of which are components of the grand vision of developing a global information framework for biomedical knowledge and data. This realization, together with plans to co-locate BHI faculty and students in one place, should result in many new collaborative proposals among BHI and affiliated faculty to exploit and integrate these strengths.  Initiatives that are currently funded or are under development include  collaborations with the new Stanford National Center for Biomedical Ontology Research, and  several  projects  with the UW computer science department for content-based retrieval, data integration, and probabalistic databases. We expect these types of proposals to increase in the future.

The administration core supported the logistics of submitting the full proposal and organized many of the planning meetings. The computer core provides system administration support, and maintains ongoing applications. The education core developed several biomedical informatics courses, and organized a medical school wide Frontiers in Biomedical Research symposium on biomedical informatics.

Project 1 (J. Brinkley, lead) : representing and managing biomedical information

This project has applied many of the techniques developed in other areas to a lab studying cataract development, in the process creating a lab management system for cataract image data, and several approaches to content-based image retrieval. A general purpose tool for creating a web-based lab management system was developed based on this experience, and proposals are pending for this tool to be applied to several other areas, inclding protein-protein interactions and clinical trials.

Project 2 (J. Gennari, lead): ontology alignment

Described in John Gennari's web pages.

Project 3 (P. Tarczy-Hornoch, lead) peer data management

Described as part of the Biomediator data integration project.