The National Cancer Institute has developed the NCI Thesaurus, a biomedical vocabulary for cancer research, covering terminology across a wide range of cancer research domains. A major design goal of the NCI Thesaurus is to facilitate translational research. We describe: the features of Ontylog, a description logic used to build NCI Thesaurus; our methodology for enhancing the terminology through collaboration between ontologists and domain experts, and for addressing certain real world challenges arising in modeling the Thesaurus; and finally, we describe the conversion of NCI Thesaurus from Ontylog into Web Ontology Language Lite. Ontylog has proven well suited for constructing big biomedical vocabularies. We have capitalized on the Ontylog constructs Kind and Role in the collaboration process described in this paper to facilitate communication between ontologists and domain experts. The artifacts and processes developed by NCI for collaboration may be useful in other biomedical terminology development efforts.
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