- 1 User Interface
- 2 Common Tasks
- 3 Glossary
- 4 How to cite NCBO and BioPortal
BioPortal provides access to commonly used biomedical ontologies and to tools for working with them. BioPortal allows you to
- browse the library of ontologies
- search for a term across multiple ontologies
- browse mappings between terms in different ontologies
- receive recommendations on which ontologies are most relevant for a corpus
- annotate text with terms from ontologies
- search biomedical resources for a term
- browse a selection of projects that use BioPortal resources
All information available through the BioPortal Web site is also available through the NCBO Web service REST API. Please see REST API documentation for more information.
Here you can browse our library of Biomedical ontologies and can also submit your own ontology. The system displays some summary information about each ontology. More detailed summary information is available on the ontology summary page for each ontology. You can reach this page by clicking on the ontology name link.
To find a particular ontology quickly, begin typing the ontology name or abbreviation in the “Filter by Text” field. You can also narrow the list of ontologies shown by selecting a specific “category” (a domain) or a “group” to which the ontology belongs. To submit an ontology press the “Submit New Ontology” button. You must be logged in to BioPortal to submit an ontology. You can subscribe to receive RSS updates when any ontology in the system changes by clicking the subscribe link. You can subscribe to updates for a particular ontology from the summary page for that ontology. To go to the summary page click on the ontology name link.
Some submitters want to control who can browse the terms in their ontology. These ontologies are marked with visibility “Private” or “Licensed”. To browse the terms in these ontologies you must be both
- logged in to BioPortal
- granted access to the ontology
For private ontologies, the ontology submitter directly controls access to the ontology. Please contact the submitter to gain access to a private ontology. Contact information for the ontology is available on the ontology summary page. For licensed ontologies, the submitter indirectly controls access to the ontology. When you attempt to access a licensed ontology, the system will prompt you to enter the license information required by the submitter. When you have entered the required information, the system will allow you to access the ontology. In addition, there are "summary only" ontologies. The terms for these ontologies are not available in BioPortal at all. Please contact the ontology submitter for more information about these ontologies.
To access ontologies programmatically, see our Ontology REST API documentation.
The search capability allows you to enter some text and find terms across multiple terminologies that contain this text. The names, synonyms, properties for a term are searched for matches to the entered text.
To find a term in any ontology enter the full or partial name the term in the search box and simply hit the Search button. The system looks for matches in the term name, synonyms, term ids, and in property values. You can filter the returned values by ontology or by the type of match by selecting one of the filter links in the output table. If you want to search only in a subset of ontologies you can specify the desired ontologies in the Ontologies box. (Note that it is no faster to search a subset than to search all ontologies.) Simply type the ontology name or acronym to chose the desired ontology. You can also select a set of ontologies from a list of all ontologies using the “select from list” link.
Note that, for performance reasons, only the top 100 matches are returned. Usually this number is sufficient to cover matches in all names, ids, and synonyms.
Some boolean search capability is available. Prefixing a term with "-" means NOT for that term. Thus "heart -attack" will search for terms with "heart" but not "attack" in the name. An OR capability is also available using parentheses. Thus "(heart attack)" means to find terms with either "heart" or "attack" in the name.
To search programmatically see our Search REST API documentation.
Mappings are associations between two or more terms in different ontologies. This association typically, but not always, represents a degree of similarity between the terms. The author of the mapping defines the semantics of a particular mapping. It is also usual for a mapping to be bi-directional, but again, this is not required. The mapping author defines directionality.
To browse mappings for an ontology, select the ontology from the drop-down list. You will then see a table showing all ontologies for which at least one mapping exists between that ontology and the ontology you selected. Select an ontology from this table to browse the mappings between the two ontologies.
To access mappings programmatically, please see our Mappings REST API documentation.
The Ontology Recommender accepts text and returns a ranked set of ontologies that most closely match the text. The ranking takes into account how many terms from the text are in the ontology and the size of the ontology.
The ontology ranking algorithm is described in the paper Building an Ontology Recommender Web Service.
To retrieve ontology recommendations programmatically, please see our Ontology Recommender REST API documentation.
To annotate text directly with ontological terms, simply enter text in the box and press the submit button. The system matches words in the text to terms in ontologies by doing an exact string comparison (a “direct” match) between the text and ontology term names, synonyms, and ids.
In addition to the direct matches, the user may expand the set of matches by including matches from mapped terms and from hierarchical expansion. For most ontologies (OWL and UMLS RRF) the system performs the hierarchical expansion on the superclass (“is-a”) relationship. For OBO ontologies the hierarchical expansion also includes the part-of relationship. You use the “number of levels” field to control the number of levels up the hierarchy for which the system will return terms for a given match.
To create annotations programmatically see the REST API documentation.
Resource Index Tab
The resource index is a pre-calculated set of annotations of selected biomedical resources. We have annotated these resources with all terms in all ontologies in BioPortal. We did this by running the Annotator Web Service on the textual descriptions of individual items in each of these resources. To retrieve records annotated with a specific ontology term, enter the term in the search box and press the "Search" button.
To access annotations for resources programmatically, please see our Resource Index REST API documentation.
Further information on ontology-based search and mining of biomedical resources is available in Jonquet et al Web Semant. 2011 Sep 1;9(3):316-324, LePendu et al J Biomed Inform. 2011 Dec;44 Suppl 1:S31-8 and Liu et al J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Apr 11
This page shows selected projects which make use of BioPortal technology. To add your project to this list press the "Create New Project" button. You must be logged in to BioPortal to create a new project.
Submitting an ontology
Go to the "Browse" page and press the "Submit Ontology" button near the top of the page.
Viewing and editing mappings
To view all mappings for an ontology, chose the ontology from the Browse page and then select "Mappings" from the drop-down list.
To view the notes for a particular term, navigate to the ontology and term (using the "Browse" tab and select the terms item from the dropdown) and then select the "Mappings" tab in the right-hand panel.
Viewing and editing notes
To view all notes for an ontology, chose the ontology from the Browse page and then select "Notes" from the drop-down list.
To view the notes for a particular term, navigate to the ontology and term (using the "Browse" tab and select the terms item from the dropdown) and then select the "Notes" tab in the right-hand panel.
Viewing and editing reviews
Navigate to the ontology summary page by selecting the ontology name from the Browse tab. Create a review by pressing the "Create Review" button near the top of the page.
- A concept in the domain of the ontology. Used within BioPortal, class is a synonym for term or concept. Term is the preferred BioPortal label.
- (from SKOS documentation) A concept is an idea or notion; a unit of thought.
- Abbreviation for "Concept Unique Identifier". These values that are assigned by UMLS for all terms in its ontologies. A CUI represents a "UMLS concept". An ontology term may be assigned to more than one CUI. The assignment of terms to CUI is intended to allow the creation of maps between terms in different ontologies.
- deprecated term
- synonym for "obsolete term" in some ontologies.
- a collection of ontologies that are typically associated with some outside group or organization.
- obsolete term
- A term that the authors of the ontology have flagged as being "obsolete" and which they recommend that people not use. These terms are often left in ontologies (rather than removing them entirely) so that existing systems that depend on them will continue to function.
- Asserted relationship between two terms in different ontologies. The nature of the exact relationship is left to the mapping author. The most common relationship for mappings between terms is "same as".
- preferred name
- Human readable label for a term that the authors of the ontology suggest be used when referring to the term. Alternate, non-preferred, names are synonyms.
- Named association between two entities. Examples are "definition" (a relation between a term and some text) and "part-of" (a relation between two terms).
- Biomedical resource (publication, database) that has been indexed with the ontologies in BioPortal.
- An alternate entry point into BioPortal which has been configured to display and use a subset of the available ontologies. The slice is accessed via URL of the form http://<slice-name>.bioportal.bioontology.org . There is currently no way for an end user to create or configure slice. However, you may send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org and request that a new slice be created for you.
- Alternate name for a term. Every term has a single "preferred" name and may have any number of synonyms.
- Concept in the domain of the ontology. Within BioPortal, term is a synonym for class or concept. Term is the preferred label.
- term mappings
- Set of mappings for a given term to terms other ontologies.
- term resources
- Set of resources that contain annotations for a given term.
How to cite NCBO and BioPortal
Noy NF, Shah NH, Whetzel PL, Dai B, Dorf M, Griffith N, Jonquet C, Rubin DL, Storey MA, Chute CG, Musen MA. BioPortal: ontologies and integrated data resources at the click of a mouse. Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Jul 1;37(Web Server issue):W170-3. Epub 2009 May 29. PubMed PMID: 19483092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2703982.