Introduction to Biomedical Ontologies #1: What is an Ontology?

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While reading an article or looking at a website, have you ever seen the term “ontology” and wondered what that meant?  Do you hear people talking about using ontologies and ask yourself what the hubbub is about?  This video is designed to help answer those questions.  Here is a beginner’s look at what an ontology is and why ontologies are an important tool in the scientist’s toolbox.

This video will show you:

  • what an "ontology" is
  • what problems the use of ontologies is meant to address
  • what it means to say that ontology terms have "relationships"
  • where you can find ontology annotations, or ontology terms associated with a specific gene or gene product
  • which ontologies RGD uses to annotate our genes and other data objects


This video is the first in a series of introductory tutorials about biomedical ontologies.  Stay tuned for the next installment:  Anatomy of an Ontology Annotation.

This work was supported in part by a Driving Biological Project Grant from the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO).

For more information about NCBO, click here.  To explore any of the more than 200 biomedical ontologies found in the NCBO BioPortal tool, click here.