The importance of the role played by information has led institutions to reflect upon means of managing and preserving the knowledge they contain. It is in no way different in the medical field. The Blood Project is a knowledge organization initiative in the domain of hematology. The main goal of the project is to provide a means through which specialized medical knowledge about blood might be properly organized, disseminated and accessed. Ultimately, it aims to put this knowledge to better use in the service of society.


The contributions of this project are twofold: one of a social character and another of a scientific character. The social contribution is realized through the use of project results for public health purposes in Hemominas Foundation (HF), the second largest Brazilian blood bank. The practical result consists of a formal language about human blood, named the Unified Formalized Blood-related Language (UFBrL), which is being developed with the benefit of the blood handling expertise of HF and its partners. The scientific contribution to the information field is represented by the addition of another instance of research linking Medicine and Knowledge Representation.


Within the scope of the project, we propose to develop and test Knowledge Representation-related methodologies using sub-domains of Medicine as test beds. Such methodologies are concerned with the ordinary steps of ontology development – for example knowledge acquisition, information organization, information visualization and, evaluation – in addition to other relevant subjects, like information security. The first stage of the project was planned in order to approach the following topics:

  • Knowledge organization: a ontology covering the physiological aspects of human blood, which will be gradually expanded to other blood sub-domains;
  • Expert knowledge acquisition: a corpus-based pragmatic study covering the daily activities of experts in a blood bank institution;
  • Knowledge acquisition from texts: use of natural language processing techniques in order to establish guidelines specifically designed for medical blood-related literature;
  • Visualization tools for evaluation: development of tools for the visualization of information, which are to be used in user-centered evaluations of ontologies;
  • Information security: study aiming to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of biomedical information in large medical institutions from a user-centered perspective.

The project activities are being conducted in UFMG, HF and CoE, the latter during a sabbatical leave (CoE stands for Center of Excellence in the Life Sciences and Bioinformatics, State University of New York at Buffalo).