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Life Sciences Information Framework OpenBEL to Become a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project

By 2013-08-268月 22nd, 2017Press Release

New project will accelerate collaboration on OpenBEL, the open platform for capturing, integrating, storing and sharing biological knowledge in and across organizations

SAN FRANCISCO, August 26, 2013 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to open source development and technologies, today announced OpenBEL is now a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project.

OpenBEL is an open source software project that enables users to capture, store, share and leverage life sciences content through a knowledge engineering platform. In life sciences, data collection is not the problem; making information interoperable and actionable has proven to be more challenging. OpenBEL aims to address those challenges.

Selventa released OpenBEL as an open source project in June 2012 after successfully using it for more than 10 years to better understand drug efficacy and toxicity, identify mechanisms for drug sensitivity and resistance, and provide deeper insight into disease networks using multiple types of Big Data. Since then it has been used in research by other companies, research organizations, and universities, including AstraZeneca, The Fraunhofer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Novartis, Pfizer, and University of California at San Diego, among others. Foundation Medicine is also joining OpenBEL to advance its mission to bring comprehensive cancer genomic analysis to routine clinical care.

Distinctly different industries are all looking to take advantage of the collaborative development model to accelerate and advance software. Through its Collaborative Projects services, The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so projects can focus on innovation and results. OpenBEL will tap into more than a decade of expertise that The Linux Foundation has in forming and shepherding successful open source projects, including Linux, in hopes that it can parlay that knowledge into a thriving open source project and community that will lead to medical and scientific breakthroughs.

In biotechnology and life sciences, the use of OpenBEL and its standard way of expressing information can accelerate the pace of technology innovation and scientific discovery in areas such as network visualization of neural brain function; understanding of complex inter-related disease biology; comparison of human diseases with various animal models; deep investigation of drug efficacy and toxicity; as well as development of innovative therapeutics and diagnostics for personalized healthcare.

The OpenBEL project advances these disciplines with the use of a common Biological Expression Language (BEL) that represents scientific findings in a computable form by capturing causal and correlative relationships in context. It also includes the BEL framework, an open platform designed to capture, integrate and store knowledge within an organization and with its partners. 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.

“All of us are smarter collectively than any one of us is by ourselves, and Linux is one of the greatest examples of that principle. 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. “OpenBEL represents an amazing opportunity for openness and collaboration to advance science, and we’re happy to impart our knowledge of collaborative software development to leaders in the life sciences industry. 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.”

“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. “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.”

The OpenBEL project includes the BEL language, the open source code and builds of the BEL Framework and associated technologies, tools, and content. The Technical Steering chair is currently Professor Dr. Martin Hofmann-Apitius, head of the Department of Bioinformatics at the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI) in Sankt Augustin (Germany), a governmental nonprofit research institute.

For more information about the OpenBEL project and to get involved, please visit:

For more information about Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects, please visit:

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences, including LinuxCon, and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at


 Trademarks: The Linux Foundation, Linux Standard Base, MeeGo, Tizen, and Yocto Project are trademarks of The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. OpenDaylight Project is a trademark of the OpenDaylight Project, Inc. OpenBEL is a trademark of the OpenBEL Consortium, Inc. Other trademarks and copyrights are owned by their respective owners.






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