The Healthcare Information Crisis: Medical Ontologies and the Challenge of Data Harmonization

Friday, November 12
1:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Oriental Institute
1155 East 58th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

This symposium brings together leading experts in biomedical informatics and digital data integration with UChicago faculty in medicine and other departments to discuss an urgent problem in healthcare: How to combine disparate sources of digital information within a common ontological framework for automated querying and analysis, even when this data is recorded by healthcare professionals and researchers using divergent vocabularies and conceptual schemes. This problem becomes ever more pressing with the explosion of big data in medicine, as in other fields, and the failure to solve it is incurring enormous costs and inefficiencies. 


Christopher Chute, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Health Informatics and Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing, Johns Hopkins University
Zachary Ives, Department Chair and Adani President’s Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania
Harold Solbrig, a leading expert in biomedical informatics at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University


This event is sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium project An Organon for the Information Age, in which the pervasive problem of harmonizing heterogeneous data is addressed as both a practical computational problem and a thorny philosophical problem that goes to the heart of our conceptions of linguistic meaning and the possibility of a semantically rich artificial intelligence.

This convening is open to all invitees who are compliant with UChicago vaccination requirements and, because of ongoing health risks, particularly to the unvaccinated, participants are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures (masking and social distancing, etc.) appropriate to their vaccination status as advised by public health officials or to their individual vulnerabilities as advised by a medical professional. Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures. Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate should contact the Neubauer Collegium at