Semantic Web for Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group (HCLSIG) Charter


  1. Mission Statement
  2. Scope
  3. Duration
  4. Deliverables
  5. Relationship with Other Activities
  6. Interest Group Participation
  7. Meetings
  8. Group Communications
  9. Patent Disclosures

Mission Statement

The Semantic Web for Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group (HCLSIG) is chartered to develop and support the use of Semantic Web technologies to improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation adoption in the of Health Care and Life Science domains. Success in these domains depends on a foundation of semantically rich system, process and information interoperability. To these ends, the HCLSIG will focus on the development of use cases that illustrate the business value of Semantic Web technology adoption, core vocabularies, guidelines and best practices regarding unique identifiers, and provide a forum for supporting communication, education, collaboration and implementation. The HCLSIG will also work with the other Semantic Web related groups to gather suggestions for further HCLSIG development work. Further, the HCLSIG will provide a forum to support and encourage the use of Semantic Web technologies and foster the growth of interoperable, policy-aware data and databases in the Life Sciences and Health Care industries.

This work falls within the Technology and Society Domain and is part of W3C's Semantic Web Activity.


The HCLSIG is focused on the use of Semantic Web technologies to better enable interoperability and improve collaboration, research and development, innovation adoption, and data reusability in the health Care and life science domains. Sample areas of work designed to facilitate this goal include:

Core vocabularies: In order to stimulate cross-community data integration, collaborative efforts are required to define core vocabularies that can bridge data and ontologies developed by individual communities of practice in HCLS. It is expected these vocabularies will be expressed in RDF Schema and / or OWL to maximize reuse among the community. Example vocabularies include but are not limited to:

Guidelines and Best Practices for Resource Identification: The Interest Group will provide guideline on how best to identify HCLS resources for use in the Semantic Web. Implementation issues include:

Scientific and Scholarly Publication: The Interest Group will provide guidelines, suggested best practices, and use of descriptive vocabularies to better enable the integration and relationships among people, data, observations, software, collections of algorithms, and scholarly publications / clinical trials.


The HCLSIG will be chartered for 2 years, beginning in September 2005.


The HCLSIG will provide a forum for supporting, guiding and collecting application and implementation experience, along with business and use cases associated with using Semantic Web technologies to solve life science and health care problems. The discussion or tools, demonstrations, test suites, validation tools, and developer resources are all within scope of this interest group. More specifically:

Meeting reports, documents and Interest Group minutes will be available from the public HCLSIG home page.

In order to meet the goal of delivering vocabularies and implementations within the time frame of this charter, the following draft milestones are defined. A more detailed set of milestones and specific events will be available on the HCLSIG home page.

Relationship with Other Activities

The HCLSIG will utilize W3C Semantic Web technologies where appropriate, and provide input back to such groups on use cases, experiences and capabilities for consideration of future standards work (e.g. Rules) in this area. Where the HCLSIG community recognizes the development of broader, general best practices are required, the HCLSIG community will work with the SWBPD Working Group to communicate these requirements.

Cooperation with other groups that are exploring the use of Semantic Web technologies is also expected. These include, but are not limited to, HL7, AMIA, HIMSS, ONCHIT, National Centers for Biomedical Computing (NCBCs), caBIG, American Pathologists (CAP), National Library of Medicine, and other Life Sciences / Pharma industry groups such as those involved in BioPax, SBML, etc.

Interest Group Participation

W3C has created the HCLSIG to be an an open, sustainable forum. To help ensure that the deliverables identified in this charter are produced in a timely fashion and represent the needs of a variety of communities, we therefore seek both dedicated and broad participation. We anticipate that dedicated individuals will enable the group to make timely progress, and that the diverse communities interested in the goals outlined by this charter -- companies, universities, and organizations of various types -- will be represented in the group.

The HCLSIG therefore welcomes participation from representatives of W3C Member organizations. To enable a broad spectrum of input, the HCLSIG also anticipates the active participation of individuals as W3C Invited Experts from universities and organizations. Participation from W3C Members and non-Members alike will help ensure the goals of this charter are effectively addressed.

The W3C Team expects to dedicate the services of one staff member to serve 50% of his / her time as staff contact for the HCLSIG to facilitate discussion as well as in the publication of notes and help with the liaison to related W3C efforts.


The HCLSIG is expected to hold weekly conference calls, and two or three face-to-face meetings. In addition, much of the work of this Interest Group will be done in task forces, which may hold additional conference calls or face-to-face meetings. An up-to-date schedule is kept on the public HCLSIG Interest Group homepage.

Task forces may additionally be responsible for identifying use cases and requirements for future Working Groups. The relevant Interest Group Notes as such would be considered as input into such work. These requirements are expected to be communicated to the Semantic Web Coordination Group for consideration of chartering new Working Groups in this area.

Group Communications

Communications of the HCLSIG will be public. This includes a public home page that records the history of the group and provides access to mailing list, ( discussion archives, meeting minutes, updated schedule of deliverables, membership list, and relevant documents and resources).

For W3C Invited Experts, access to W3C Member-only information will not be required for participation in this Interest Group.

Patent Disclosures

The HCLS Interest Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on Semantic Web technologies to improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation adoption in the of Health Care and Life Science domains. W3C reminds Interest Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Interest Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Interest Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.