Two decades ago, then NCI Director Dr. Klausner set EVS the mission to create a comprehensive framework and infrastructure for controlled terminology to accurately represent biomedical meaning throughout NCI, and to facilitate the standardization of terminology and information systems across NCI and the cancer research and biomedical community. This was seen as a critical foundation for making biomedical data useful for information sharing and data analysis.
EVS adopted a flexible, multi-pronged strategy. EVS recognized that terminologies will be multiple and diverse for the foreseeable future, reflecting the requirements of specific activities, and often reflecting the results of many years of development, consensus building, and investments in working systems; a critical first step was to gather up, analyze and cross-map the main coding terminologies used at NCI. At the same time, a scientifically and technically rigorous reference terminology and ontology was needed to provide a correct, computable backbone of meanings to help unify and harmonize this diversity; this was created from the seeds of PDQ and other existing terminologies, but transformed and extended to provide rich ontological representations of topics important to cancer research. This computable backbone of meaning led to the use of EVS terminology concepts as the anchor for describing the meaning of caDSR data elements.
As cancer research is an integral part of a broader biomedical research community, EVS increasingly engaged with other NIH institutes, federal agencies, and the biomedical standards and research community to build shared terminology and tools in areas of overlapping interest, notably for the characterization of diseases and of the drugs, therapies and procedures used to detect and treat disease, as well as the biomedical research coding standards governing the conduct and review of clinical trial and other research.
EVS partnerships and use are more fully described on the NCI Wiki (see EVS Use and Collaborations). This is based on the content and tools outlined on the Home page, as well as the team of subject matter and technical experts who comprise the core of EVS and work to advance both EVS resources and the state of the art across the community.