Cells in experimental life sciences - challenges and solution to the rapid evolution of knowledge

BMC Bioinformatics. 2017 Dec 21;18(Suppl 17):560. doi: 10.1186/s12859-017-1976-2.


Cell cultures used in biomedical experiments come in the form of both sample biopsy primary cells, and maintainable immortalised cell lineages. The rise of bioinformatics and high-throughput technologies has led us to the requirement of ontology representation of cell types and cell lines. The Cell Ontology (CL) and Cell Line Ontology (CLO) have long been established as reference ontologies in the OBO framework. We have compiled a series of the challenges and the proposals of solutions in this CELLS (Cells in ExperimentaL Life Sciences) thematic series that cover the grounds of standing issues and the directions, which were discussed in the First International Workshop on CELLS at the the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO). This workshop focused on the extension of the current CL and CLO to cover a wider set of biological questions and challenges needing semantic infrastructure for information modeling. We discussed data-driven use cases that leverage linkage of CL, CLO and other bio-ontologies. This is an established approach in data-driven ontologies such as the Experimental Factor Ontology (EFO), and the Ontology for Biomedical Investigation (OBI). The First International Workshop on CELLS at the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology has brought together experimental biologists and biomedical ontologists to discuss solutions to organizing and representing the rapidly evolving knowledge gained from experimental cells. The workshop has successfully identified the areas of challenge, and the gap in connecting the two domains of knowledge. The outcome of this workshop yielded practical implementation plans to filled in this gap.This CELLS workshop also provided a venue for panel discussions of innovative solutions as well as challenges in the development and applications of biomedical ontologies to represent and analyze experimental cell data.

Keywords: Cell culture; Cell line; Cell line ontology; Cell ontology; Cell types, human cell atlas.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biological Science Disciplines*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Data Mining / methods*
  • Humans
  • Research Design*