How to Develop a Drug Target Ontology: KNowledge Acquisition and Representation Methodology (KNARM)

Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1939:49-69. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9089-4_4.


Technological advancements in many fields have led to huge increases in data production, including data volume, diversity, and the speed at which new data is becoming available. In accordance with this, there is a lack of conformity in the ways data is interpreted. This era of "big data" provides unprecedented opportunities for data-driven research and "big picture" models. However, in-depth analyses-making use of various data types and data sources and extracting knowledge-have become a more daunting task. This is especially the case in life sciences where simplification and flattening of diverse data types often lead to incorrect predictions. Effective applications of big data approaches in life sciences require better, knowledge-based, semantic models that are suitable as a framework for big data integration, while avoiding oversimplifications, such as reducing various biological data types to the gene level. A huge hurdle in developing such semantic knowledge models, or ontologies, is the knowledge acquisition bottleneck. Automated methods are still very limited, and significant human expertise is required. In this chapter, we describe a methodology to systematize this knowledge acquisition and representation challenge, termed KNowledge Acquisition and Representation Methodology (KNARM). We then describe application of the methodology while implementing the Drug Target Ontology (DTO). We aimed to create an approach, involving domain experts and knowledge engineers, to build useful, comprehensive, consistent ontologies that will enable big data approaches in the domain of drug discovery, without the currently common simplifications.

Keywords: Big data; Drug target ontology; KNARM; Knowledge acquisition; Ontology; Semantic model; Semantic web.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Big Data*
  • Biological Ontologies*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Semantic Web*