OpenBEL to become a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project


Data collection has never been a problem in the life sciences. Indeed, one could point to the life sciences as the source of the original big data conundrum. Previous efforts to resolve big data knowledge management and global collaboration have hit their limit however, and now a new approach is needed.

OpenBEL, an open source software project "that enables users to capture, store, share, and leverage life sciences content through a knowledge engineering platform" was developed to manage all the data the life sciences generate.

In the beginning it was proprietary software but it became an open source project 10 years later in June 2012. Within, there was great success in developing a standard way of expressing information via a common Biological Expression Language that represents scientific findings "in a computable form by capturing causal and correlative relationships in context."

The BEL framework is an open platform designed to capture, integrate and store knowledge within an organization and with its partners, and is explained thusly by the organization: "Central to the design of the framework is the ability to integrate knowledge across different representational vocabularies and ontologies. This allows organizations to combine knowledge from disparate sources into centralized knowledge repositories. The combined knowledge can be made available to a variety of decision support and analytical applications through a standardized set of computable networks and APIs."

So far, so good ... as far as it goes.

But while OpenBEL does a good job in managing massive amounts of data, it struggles in providing a collaborative platform that can match the speed in innovations the community so desperately seeks. Enter the newly-formed partnership between OpenBEL and the Linux Foundation.

"The Linux Foundation hosts the largest collaborative project in the history of computing: Linux. It is the standard by which all open development projects measure themselves. We know our industry can learn a lot from this neutral steward of open development and governance," said Ted Slater, Project lead for OpenBEL, in a statement to the press. "Also by hosting OpenBEL at The Linux Foundation, we have access to a variety of important services to help facilitate collaborative development, allowing our teams to focus on our subject matter: life science."

"We are able to take what we know about Linux and collaborative development and transfer that to new industries," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, in a statement to the press. "Successful open source projects don't just host code; they make use of a full suite of open source best practices to quickly gain adoption and collaboration. We aim to help OpenBEL achieve even more success."

Of all the newly formed partnerships and alliances I've seen lately, this one is by far the most promising. There is no argument that Linux is the single most successful collaborative project in existence and there is no doubt that OpenBEL is aiming to follow suit in the life sciences.

It is, as they say, a marriage made in heaven.

Expect acceleration in many diverse innovations in  10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7...

For more information:
- see the OpenBEL website
- see the Linux Foundation website

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