IntroductionThe International Symposium on Languages in Biology and Medicine (LBM) is a biennial interdisciplinary forum that brings together researchers in biology, chemistry, medicine, public health and informatics to discuss and exploit cutting edge language technologies.
Language, in its many forms, is the universal means to represent, convey, and question knowledge. Natural languages are still most widely used as a means of scientific and professional communication and we have been witnessing a surge of interests in the use of natural language processing techniques to improve access to and integrate information in biology, medicine, chemistry, pharmacology, clinical practice and related areas. In these domains, however, a number of other languages are used typically together with natural languages; these include annotations, knowledge representation languages such as ontologies; sequences, chemical and mathematical formulae, modelling languages, graphs, images, etc. Given the vast amount of available information and its highly dynamic nature, the ability to automatically process, interpret and integrate various language expressions is of key importance for advancing biomedical research and healthcare provision. A number of associated technologies have been developed, including text mining and information extraction systems, semantic indexing and querying approaches, systems modelling and reasoning procedures, information linking and visualization frameworks, etc. Current technologies are continually stretched by the demands of bio-medical scientists and practitioners, and there is the continual need and incentive for language techniques to evolve.
In response to these challenges, the LBM series was launched in 2005 as a biennial forum for interdisciplinary and synergistic interactions between different communities and approaches focused on understanding and facilitating the use of languages in life sciences. The LBM domain areas include but are not limited to molecular and systems biology, chemistry, pharmacology, bio- and chemical informatics, biodiversity, medicine, clinical practice and public health. LBM is focused on the exploration of languages that are in active use in these application domains, including both understanding of specific phenomena (e.g. the evolution of terminology; expressing speculative facts; coining abbreviations; annotation distributions; structuring of chemical formulae) and designing solutions for automated analyses (e.g. text mining; document classification; semantic indexing and querying; ontology engineering; information integration and visualization; sequence analysis using language processing techniques). Of particular interest are also integrative approaches that link for example text mining, ontological reasoning, sequence analyses and network visualisations. Recent developments, such as languages used in the Semantic Web and in Linked data, are also of interest.