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1Stuart, S.J. ; Powell, T. ; Humphreys, B.L.: ¬The Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) project.
In: Encyclopedia of library and information science. Vol.71, [=Suppl.34]. New York : Dekker, 2002. S.369-378.
Abstract: In 1986, Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D., Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), initiated a long-term research and development effort known as the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS). Anticipating increasing amounts of biomedical information available in electronic form, he believed that NLM should facilitate the development of advanced information systems that could retrieve and integrate information from a variety of disparate information sources, including bibliographic databases, patient record systems, factual databanks, and knowledge bases. He recognized that a major barrier to effective retrieval and integration of information from multiple sources was the "naming problem," or the variety of different ways that the same concepts are expressed in different information sources and by different information seekers. To address the complex problems of relating user inquiries to the content of biomedical information sources and of aggregating comparable data derived from disparate databases, the NLM assembled a multidisciplinary in-house research group and also awarded a series of research contracts to a number of primarily academic investigators. The first several years of UMLS research were devoted to studying user needs, developing research tools, identifying required capabilities, exploring alternative methods for delivering these capabilities, and defining in general terms the new knowledge sources that would be needed to support integrated use of information from disparate electronic biomedical sources. Based an the results of this early work, the conception of UMLS components as "middleware" designed for use by system developers emerged. Since 1990, NLM has issued annual editions of UMLS knowledge sources and associated lexical programs. Over the past decade, these resources have grown and developed, the methodology of creating them has matured, and their utility has been demonstrated in many different information systems. Today more than 1,000 individuals and institutions worldwide license the UMLS resources, which are free of charge. The majority of the licensees use one or more of the UMLS components in information systems, often in creative and innovative undertakings. The NLM itself uses UMLS components to enhance retrieval from a number of its information devices, including the MEDLINE database available via PubMed, the ClinicalTrials.gov database of ongoing clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and other organizations, and the NLM Gateway, which provides a single point of entry to a number of different NLM databases. The library also relies heavily an the UMLS resources in its natural language processing and digital library research programs.