The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today is focusing attention on life science semantic techniques.

The W3C, the group responsible for developing standards for the Web, believes semantics will play a major role in improving the way information is found, integrated, and analyzed on the Web, in general, and in life science applications, in particular.

At Wednesday’s gathering (titled “The Workshop on Semantic Web for the Life Sciences”), about 30 papers will be presented that discuss how semantic Web technologies - such as the resource description framework and the Web ontology language - are being used to improve interoperability and reduce the obstacles and costs associated with life science data analysis, integration, and collaboration.

“There is already a significant body of work in mapping life sciences knowledge into interconnected data networks based on the W3C’s Semantic Web technologies,” said John Wilbanks, W3C fellow.

“With significant participation of the life sciences community, we're hoping that this workshop will bring more opportunities for information sharing to light, and encourage work based on leading work in research and industry today.”

“The challenges posed by drug discovery can only be solved if we can integrate data across the many fields of life sciences,” said Sir Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium.

“As we have seen in other industries, when one field adopts standard technologies for data, the impact is that its data becomes accessible to those in other fields, and barriers to sharing information crumble. It's at the heart of the Semantic Web,” he said.

Wilbanks’ and Berners-Lee’s comments were part of a prepared statement.

Berners-Lee was expected to give the keynote presentation at the workshop. Other participants included representatives from AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Elsevier, HP, IBM, Jackson Laboratories, the National Cancer Institute Center for Bioinformatics, Oracle Life Sciences, the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics/UniProt, and the University of Michigan School of Medicine.