Developing an Application Ontology for the Sleep Domain



A number of medical ontology models provide broad coverage of clinical terms and their relationships. In-depth coverage, however, is often not available, limiting their use in specialized sub-domains such as Sleep Medicine. Current ontology use is often limited to data annotation and as a source for term lists. Applications that need additional information for terms such as their data types, measurement units etc. need to model this information separately.

The NCRR-funded, multi-CTSA-site PhysioMIMI project is developing a federated data integration environment supporting collaborative clinical and translational research in Sleep Medicine. An 'application ontology' for sleep medicine (Sleep Domain Ontology or SDO) is being developed using upper level and reference ontologies such as BFO, FMA, CPR and OGMS to provide a common framework for physiological and clinical data in Sleep Medicine and also provide adequate term definitions to guide user interfaces. Polysomnography (PSG or sleep study) along with sleep phenotypes, diseases and medications in the context of a clinical use case is used as an exemplar for this project.