Background: Identifying relevant research in an ever-growing body of published literature is becoming increasingly difficult. Establishing domain-specific knowledge bases may be a more effective and efficient way to manage and query information within specific biomedical fields. Adopting controlled vocabulary is a critical step toward data integration and interoperability in any information system. We present an open source infrastructure that provides a powerful capacity for managing and mining data within a domain-specific knowledge base. As a practical application of our infrastructure, we presented two applications - Literature Finder and Investigator Browser - as well as a tool set for automating the data curating process for the human genome published literature database. The design of this infrastructure makes the system potentially extensible to other data sources.
Results: Information retrieval and usability tests demonstrated that the system had high rates of recall and precision, 90% and 93% respectively. The system was easy to learn, easy to use, reasonably speedy and effective.
Conclusion: The open source system infrastructure presented in this paper provides a novel approach to managing and querying information and knowledge from domain-specific PubMed data. Using the controlled vocabulary UMLS enhanced data integration and interoperability and the extensibility of the system. In addition, by using MVC-based design and Java as a platform-independent programming language, this system provides a potential infrastructure for any domain-specific knowledge base in the biomedical field.