Current and Future Extensions

1. The Human Brain Project, spearheaded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, has identified as one of its goals the development of an ontology for neuroanatomy. The FMA has been considered as a prototype for such an ontology and our preliminary work demonstrates the scalability of the FMA’s semantic structure and implementation schema to the neuroanatomy domain (Publications/NeuroAnatomy-FMA). In the process we have also identified some of the challenges in reconciling differences in representing neuroanatomical views from the different domains of neurosciences and clinical practice.

2. A critical requirement for the validation of animal models of human disease is the verification of anatomical equivalences ranging from genes to cells, tissues, organs, organ systems and body parts. In response to a need by the National Cancer Institue’s consortium for mouse models of human cancer (MMHCC), we have developed, as a demonstration project, symbolic representations of the anatomy of the mouse prostate and mammary gland, mirroring human anatomy in the FMA (Publications/ Mouse-FMA.).

3. An ontology of physics in biology (OPB) is being developed by Dan Cook, John Gennari, Onard Mejino and Adriana Emmi, and is based on the ontological approach used for the FMA.

4. A collaboration with the Mayo Clinic through NCBO for using the Foundational Model of Anatomy ontology as the anatomic basis for clinical indexing and as a bridge to indexing the output of biomedical experiments in order to advance translational research.

5. Under the title ‘Digital Human’, the Federation of American Scientists, in association with NSF and DARPA, is spearheading an initiative for “unifying” biomedical ontologies in order to support the modeling of cellular and higher level physiological processes. This initiative has singled out the Digital Anatomist Foundational Model as the candidate anatomy ontology to serve as a bridge and reference for aligning existing and evolving ontologies, recognizing that the structural context and scope of the FMA make it the best candidate for this role.

6. The FMA has provided the global architecture for the first phase of the Virtual Soldier demonstration project sponsored by DARPA.

7. The FMA has been selected as a candidate ontology to be incorporated into the OBO Foundry, which is a collaborative experiment, involving a group of ontology developers who have agreed to the adoption of a set of principles specifying best practices in ontology development..

8. A number of projects have utilized the FMA as a reference background source for aligning different and disparate anatomical ontologies. Zhang and Bodenreider at NIH have shown that indirect mappings between Adult Mouse Anatomical Dictionary (MA) and the NCI Thesaurus through the FMA is an efficient and reliable method (MA-NCI alignment). Aleksovski, ten Kate and Harmelen matched the anatomy part of CRISP with the anatomy part of MeSH using the FMA ontology as the background knowledge (CRISP-MeSH alignment). Their results showed that indirect matching using a background ontology produced significantly more matches than direct matches.

9. As a reference ontology, the FMA can provide both content and ontological framework to any application that requires for its specific use only a subset of the ontology. This is subset, extract or "view" is called an application ontology. As proof of concept, we have derived from the FMA the ontological framework to reorganize the anatomy axis of RadLex, a terminology project in Radiology.