Encyclopedia of Systems Biology

2013 Edition
| Editors: Werner Dubitzky, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Kwang-Hyun Cho, Hiroki Yokota

Ontology Lookup Service for Controlled Vocabularies and Data Annotation

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9863-7_1105


The Ontology Lookup Service (OLS, http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ols) provides interactive and programmatic interfaces to query, browse, and navigate over 80 ontologies and controlled vocabularies covering wide selection of domain-specific knowledge. The OLS is currently heavily used by several databases and data-entry tools, and new ontologies are always being incorporated as domain experts make them available.


One of the challenges of systems biology is the need to integrate large amounts of potentially disparate information, coming from multiple sources, being generated by different techniques and instrumentation. Proper annotation provides a Rosetta stone through which the systems biologist can start making sense of all of this information by providing a stable and consistent context to make this vast corpus of data comparable.

The Ontology Lookup Service was created to provide a simple, centralized, integrated interface to query multiple domain-specific ontologies...

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OLS contributors have been supported through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) ISPIDER grant, the EU FP6 “Felics” (contract number 021902 (RII3)) grant, and the EU FP7 “Sling” grant (grant number 226073). We would like to thank all users who have contributed recommendations and requests. Many improvements, already executed and some ongoing, come directly from this feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Molecular Biology LaboratoryEuropean Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), HinxtonCambridgeUK
  2. 2.EMBL Outstation, European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)European Molecular Biology Laboratory Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, HinxtonCambridgeUK