We are recently witnessing a surge of interests in the use of natural language processing techniques for biology and medicine, the most notable ones coined together as ¡°literature mining in biomedicine¡±. These interests have also been hosted by a number of international meetings, such as a dedicated series of sessions at PSB, SIG meetings at ISMB, satellite workshops and special sessions at ACL and COLING, and the symposium on semantic mining in biomedicine. The list certainly keeps expanding, properly reflecting the increasing demand for the NLP techniques in biology and medicine. However, we find that the present directions for the use of NLP techniques need further diversification, so that the pressing issues in biology and medicine receive more lateral and creative treatments. For this purpose, we believe that it is vital to bring out the synergistic interactions to the full among the conference participants with different methodological backgrounds for various languages in biology and medicine.
In an answer to this need, we announce the international symposium on Languages in Biology and Medicine, to be held in South Korea during the dates (TBA) in 2009. To provide a common ground for interaction among the participants, the symposium will focus on the languages that are in active use for biology and medicine, including not only natural language but also sequence language, database language, ontology language, logic language, and visualization language. It is not that these languages of the latter received much less attention; to the contrary, the sequence language, or "the language of genes" has for example received quite an attention by the "grammar" community from the perspective of language modeling of biological data. It is just that perhaps in part due to the overemphasis on the "mining" aspect of the research, and in part due to the complexity issues and the consequent loss of directionality, the possibility of achieving synergistic interactions across methodological disciplines and across different languages is not yet sought for.