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March 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 6)

Semantics Integration Tools Free Up Data

IO Informatics Attempts to Make Life Science Research Easier with Suite of Software Products

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    Multiple data resources integrated by researchers using the Knowledge Explorer: The effects of an experimental drug on genes in the context of drugs in clinical trials, in the literature, and in other public references is shown.

    Making sense of complex genomic and proteomic data is becoming easier as a result of advances in bioinformatics. Imagine connecting data in a fraction of the previously required time, and also incorporating information from published scientific papers, patient responses to medication, or complex histopathology images. That’s exactly the goal at IO Informatics. Its semantics integration software reportedly allows researchers to look at different types of data simultaneously, regardless of the source of the information or where it is located.

    “Scientists have done a great job of creating data in specialized fields, but to make it useful, we have to meaningfully connect the dots across disciplines,” says Robert Stanley, CEO. Semantic technology offers a new way to link data quickly and flexibly across domains and give meaningful results to the end user. Stanley calls data integration a “persistent pain point” for the biological sciences, especially as data keeps expanding and changing. He and Erich Gombocz, Ph.D., CSO and vp, started IO Informatics in 2003.

    The “IO” in the company’s name refers to intelligent multidimensional object (IMO) database records. IMOs reflect the underlying principle behind the Semantic Web, a consortium that helps computers to understand the meaning (or semantics) of information on the web. IMOs turn data into freeform relational objects that can be easily shared, manipulated, integrated, and compared. Stanley and Gombocz simplified the term to “intelligent object” when applied to their company’s intellectual property.

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