Barry Smith (academic)

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Barry Smith
Barry Smith.jpg
Born (1952-06-04) June 4, 1952 (age 64)
Bury, England
Citizenship United States
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Ontology
Institutions University of Manchester
University of Sheffield
International Academy of Philosophy, Liechtenstein
University at Buffalo
Alma mater University of Oxford
University of Manchester (PhD, 1976)
Thesis The Ontology of Reference: Studies in Logic and Phenomenology (1976)
Doctoral advisor Wolfe Mays
Notable students Berit Brogaard
Known for IFOMIS
OBO Foundry
Basic Formal Ontology
Influences Aristotle
Franz Brentano
Edmund Husserl
Adolf Reinach
Roman Ingarden
Michael Dummett
Notable awards Wolfgang Paul Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Barry Smith (born June 4, 1952) is an academic working especially in the fields of ontology and biomedical informatics.

Education and career[edit]

From 1970 to 1973 Smith studied Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He obtained his PhD from the University of Manchester in 1976 for a dissertation on the ontology of reference in Husserl and Frege.[1]

From 1976 to 1994 he held appointments in Sheffield (1976–1979), Manchester (1979–1989) and Liechtenstein (at the International Academy of Philosophy, 1989–1994), and in 1994 he moved to the University at Buffalo (New York, USA),[2] where he is currently Julian Park Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Computer Science and Engineering, and Neurology. He is also Research Scientist in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. From 2002 to 2006 Smith served as founding Director of the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) in Leipzig, Germany. The Institute moved to Saarbrücken in 2004.

Research activities[edit]

Smith is the author of some 500 scientific publications,[3] including 15 authored or edited books. He is also editor of The Monist: An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry.

Smith's primary research focus is ontology and its applications, especially in biomedical informatics[4][5][6][7][8] where he has worked on a variety of projects relating to biomedical terminologies and electronic health records. He is leader of the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) project, a Coordinating Editor of the OBO Foundry[9] and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Gene Ontology Consortium, and the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI)[10] Working Group. In addition he has contributed to the Infectious Disease Ontology, the Protein Ontology, the Information Artifact Ontology, and a variety of other ontology resources especially in the biomedical field.

More recently he has worked on a variety of ontology-related initiatives in the military field. In 2008-2010 he served as technical lead on a project sponsored by the US Army Net-Centric Data Strategy Center of Excellence (ANCDS CoE) to create the Universal Core Semantic Layer (UCore-SL).[11] Since 2010 he was worked on a series of initiatives sponsored by the US Army Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD) to create a framework for semantic enhancement of intelligence data in the Cloud. Since 2014 he is collaborator on initiatives of the US Air Force Research Laboratory on planning, mission assurance, and lifecycle management. In this connection he is working on a project to create a Joint Doctrine Ontology.[12] Smith has also collaborated with Hernando de Soto, Director of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru, on the ontology of property rights and social development. He also collaborates with the United Nations Environment Programme on the role of ontologies in ingregation of environmental data.

Smith has received over $12 million in funding for his research in ontology, deriving primarily from the National Institutes of Health, the US, Swiss and Austrian National Science Foundations, the Humboldt Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, the European Union, and the US Department of Defense.

In 2005 Smith founded the National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR), under the auspices of which he initiated in 2006 the Ontology for the Intelligence Community, now STIDS annual conference series. Smith was also responsible for initiating the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology.

In 1992 Smith co-authored a letter to The Times concerning Jacques Derrida receiving an honorary degree from Cambridge University, in which he and his co-authors argued that Derrida did not deserve this recognition.[13]


In 2002 Smith received the Wolfgang Paul Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2010 he received the first Paolo Bozzi Prize for Ontology from the University of Turin.[14] In 2014 he was elected Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI). In 2016 he was included on a list of the 50 most influential living philosophers created by




  1. ^ Smith, Barry (1976). The Ontology of Reference: Studies in Logic and Phenomenology (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Barry Smith – CV
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Smith, B.; Ceusters, W. (2010). "Ontological realism: A methodology for coordinated evolution of scientific ontologies". Applied Ontology. 5 (3–4): 139–188. doi:10.3233/AO-2010-0079. PMC 3104413Freely accessible. PMID 21637730. 
  5. ^ Smith, B.; Rosse, C. (2004). "The role of foundational relations in the alignment of biomedical ontologies". Studies in health technology and informatics. 107 (Pt 1): 444–448. PMID 15360852. 
  6. ^ Smith, B.; Williams, J.; Schulze-Kremer, S. (2003). "The ontology of the gene ontology". AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings. 2003: 609–613. PMC 1480173Freely accessible. PMID 14728245. 
  7. ^ Smith, B.; Ceusters, W.; Klagges, B.; Köhler, J.; Kumar, A.; Lomax, J.; Mungall, C.; Neuhaus, F.; Rector, A. L.; Rosse, C. (2005). "Relations in biomedical ontologies". Genome Biology. 6 (5): R46. doi:10.1186/gb-2005-6-5-r46. PMC 1175958Freely accessible. PMID 15892874. 
  8. ^ Schober, D.; Smith, B.; Lewis, S. E.; Kusnierczyk, W.; Lomax, J.; Mungall, C.; Taylor, C. F.; Rocca-Serra, P.; Sansone, S. A. (2009). "Survey-based naming conventions for use in OBO Foundry ontology development". BMC Bioinformatics. 10: 125. doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-125. PMC 2684543Freely accessible. PMID 19397794. 
  9. ^ Smith, B.; Ashburner, M.; Rosse, C.; Bard, J.; Bug, W.; Ceusters, W.; Goldberg, L. J.; Eilbeck, K.; Ireland, A.; Mungall, C. J.; Leontis, N.; Rocca-Serra, P.; Ruttenberg, A.; Sansone, S. A.; Scheuermann, R. H.; Shah, N.; Whetzel, P. L.; Lewis, S. (2007). "The OBO Foundry: Coordinated evolution of ontologies to support biomedical data integration". Nature Biotechnology. 25 (11): 1251–1255. doi:10.1038/nbt1346. PMC 2814061Freely accessible. PMID 17989687.  open access publication - free to read
  10. ^ Brinkman, R. R.; Courtot, M.; Derom, D.; Fostel, J. M.; He, Y.; Lord, P.; Malone, J.; Parkinson, H.; Peters, B.; Rocca-Serra, P.; Ruttenberg, A.; Sansone, S. A.; Soldatova, L. N.; Stoeckert Jr, C. J.; Turner, J. A.; Zheng, J.; Obi, C. (2010). "Modeling biomedical experimental processes with OBI". Journal of biomedical semantics. 1 Suppl 1 (Suppl 1): S7. doi:10.1186/2041-1480-1-S1-S7. PMC 2903726Freely accessible. PMID 20626927. 
  11. ^ Smith, B.; Vizenor, L.; Schoening, J. (2009). "Universal Core Semantic Layer". CEUR. 555. 
  12. ^ Morosoff, P.; Rudnicki, R.; Bryant, J.; Farrell, R.; Smith, B. (2015). "Joint Doctrine Ontology: A Benchmark for Military Information Systems Interoperability". CEUR. 1523: 2–9. 
  13. ^
  14. ^

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