BioWordVec, improving biomedical word embeddings with subword information and MeSH

Sci Data. 2019 May 10;6(1):52. doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0055-0.


Distributed word representations have become an essential foundation for biomedical natural language processing (BioNLP), text mining and information retrieval. Word embeddings are traditionally computed at the word level from a large corpus of unlabeled text, ignoring the information present in the internal structure of words or any information available in domain specific structured resources such as ontologies. However, such information holds potentials for greatly improving the quality of the word representation, as suggested in some recent studies in the general domain. Here we present BioWordVec: an open set of biomedical word vectors/embeddings that combines subword information from unlabeled biomedical text with a widely-used biomedical controlled vocabulary called Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). We assess both the validity and utility of our generated word embeddings over multiple NLP tasks in the biomedical domain. Our benchmarking results demonstrate that our word embeddings can result in significantly improved performance over the previous state of the art in those challenging tasks.

Publication types

  • Dataset

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Data Mining / methods*
  • Medical Subject Headings*
  • Natural Language Processing*