About the FoodOn Consortium

Hsiao Lab initiated a search for a standardized food vocabulary in 2015 to support routine surveillance and outbreak analysis of foodborne pathogens, and quickly realized a new robust ontology needed to be developed for this purpose. Other curators within academia and the OBOFoundry.org community, having parallel needs for agriculture, nutritional analysis and  food science research, quickly joined the consortium.

Founding members

  • William Hsiao and Damion Dooley (University of British Columbia Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine) and Fiona Brinkman and Emma Griffiths (Simon Fraser University Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry) are involved in the IRIDA.ca project with a focus on ontology of food-borne pathogen related (genomic) epidemiology. Fiona and Emma are also involved in The Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study (CHILD) investigation of genetic and environmental factors associated with the development of allergy and asthma.
  • Pier Luigi Buttigieg (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung) is developing environmental ontologies (ENVO) and semantics for sustainable development. These domains include the semantics of food production, security, and composition.
  • Robert Hoehndorf (King Abdullah University), a key proponent of the Aber-OWL.net project, is researching chemical exposure with respect to diet and health.
  • Matthew Lange (UC Davis School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Initiative for Wireless Health and Wellness) spearheads the IC3-Foods consortium, with a focus on the technology and policy implications of next generation food systems.
  • Lynn Schriml (University of Maryland School of Medicine) is engaged in research on developing bioinformatic tools, metadata standards and ontologies (including the Disease Ontology) to gain a broader understanding of the relationship between infectious pathogens, their genomic sequence and disease.


A list of our current and past curators is coming soon!


Past and current funding for FoodOn development has been provided through a variety of agency grants.