UB’s Barry Smith named Fellow of American College of Medical Informatics

Barry Smith standing in front of a screen with ontological word diagrams.

UB's Barry Smith has been named a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. Credit: Douglas Levere

Release Date: December 2, 2014


BUFFALO, N.Y. – In the field of medical and information technology research, Barry Smith, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Julian Park Chair in the University at Buffalo Department of Philosophy, has made a distinctive and significant contribution.

An internationally recognized ontologist, Smith is among 19 fellows inducted this year into the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI), the honorary college of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

A pioneering specialist in medical ontology and medical informatics, he is the first philosopher to be named an ACMI fellow, and was inducted during the 14th Annual AMIA Symposium on Biomedical and Health Informatics, held in Washington, D.C.

Medical ontology involves explicit formal specifications of terms employed in the biomedical field and of the relationships among those terms. The work is significant because medical and biomedical terminologies vary greatly in meaning throughout the world, which inhibits the application, and even the clear interpretation, of medical and biological research.

Smith has made groundbreaking contributions to nearly all important fields of ontology and how they are applied to natural language processing, clinical decision support, translational medicine, data integration and interoperability.

He founded and directs the interdisciplinary research Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) at the University of Leipzig in 2002. It moved in 2004 to Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany.

Today he directs UB’s National Center for Ontological Research and edits The Monist, one of the world’s oldest and most prominent philosophy journals.

Smith has received wide recognition for his scientific achievements. Among his awards are the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s $2 million Wolfgang Paul Award, granted for the first and only time in 2001 to 12 internationally outstanding scientists and scholars. In 2010 he received the first Paolo Bozzi Prize for Ontology in recognition of his contributions to the better understanding and management of ontology in bioinformatics and other fields.

AMIA, the leading professional association for informatics professionals, serves as the voice of the nation’s top biomedical and health informatics professionals and plays an important role in medicine, health care and science, encouraging the use of data, information and knowledge to improve both human health and delivery of health care services.

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