For several years, BioPortal team has contributed to a new semantic service for requesting ontology terms. The product is called OntoloBridge, and it lets users request terms (and eventually, changes to terms) for any ontology.

Developed by the University of Miami’s Institute for Data Science and Computing, Stanford University’s Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, and Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc., OntoloBridge lets users or other systems make a request for an ontology term in a particular ontology. Often users looking at an ontology have no idea how to request a new ontology term, or whom to ask; and if they are using a tool that is itself using an ontology, the end user may not even know what ontology is being used.

OntoloBridge solves this problem by providing an API for requesting ontology terms, and curating the requests that are received. BioPortal has implemented an interface to this API, so that if an ontology manager wants people to be able to easily request new terms for their BioPortal-displayed ontology, they simply ask the Stanford BioPortal or University of Miami OntoloBridge team to enable the request system for their ontology.

After selecting the ‘cell’ concept in the Protein Ontology, a logged-in user clicks on New Term Requests
to see and fill out the OntoloBridge request form.

When the BioPortal ontology has OntoloBridge requests enabled, the registered BioPortal user viewing ontology terms in the ontology’s class tree can use the New Terms Request tab to fill out a request form for the term he or she needs. BioPortal will forward this request to OntoloBridge, whose operations team will pass the request on to the appropriate ontology manager or ontology request system.

The OntoloBridge term request service can also be enabled in any OntoPortal Virtual Appliance, after consultation with the University of Miami team.

In the coming year, BioPortal plans to implement a configurable instructions field for each OntoloBridge-enabled ontology, and make it possible to see the status of term requests previous made for that ontology.