Mobile applications driven by Open PHACTS semantic web technology

Christine Chichester, Lee Harald, Tim Harder


The Open PHACTS proiect is a large-scale public-private partnership funded under the European Innovative Medicines Initiative. The aim of the project is to create a stable infrastructure that combines diverse biomedical databases and enables scientists to answer complex questions of relevance to drug discovery and human health. The data integration is achieved through semantic web technologies, with data modeled in RDF and served through a high performance triple store. The main point of interaction with the system is an API, designed to be “developer friendly” by using familiar web technologies such as REST services and JSON. The vision is the Open PHACTS API becomes the foundation of an “application ecosystem”, enabling anyone to create applications targeting different use-cases within this domain. Here, we present two examples of the use of the Open PHACTS API to create mobile scientific applications. The ChemBioNavigator is a tool that allows researchers to analyze and triage sets of bioactive small molecules.  Physiochemical properties are used to separate the molecules into different areas of a graph, upon which biological information from the Open PHACTS database is overlaid. This visualization allows users to understand the relationship between these data and select the molecules with the best overall combinations of these properties. The second example is the iPharm application which is designed to address a common situation where a researcher needs a high-level overview on a drug or target. The user simply opens up the application, enters a drug name and is presented with key clinical and molecular data summarizing the action of that drug. An important aspect of both applications is that while they are based on semantic technologies, the user interfaces are specifically designed to look like “normal” applications. We demonstrate the combination of semantic data with natural user interfaces provides a powerful mechanism to address scientific data navigation.


semantic web; mobile applications; open phacts; life sciences; drug discovery

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