Catalyze knowledge-driven discovery in environmental health sciences through a virtual workshop in harmonized language



September 9-10, 2021
Virtual workshop


The objective of this workshop was to advance the development and adoption of language standards in environmental health through the formation of a sustained community effort. In this interactive workshop, participants were responsible for “thinking together” on two themes:

  1. Building a sustainable community: Obtain agreement on the mission, community model and strategy of the Environmental Health Language Collaborative to create an impactful community.
  2. Develop solutions: Define use cases in environmental health science research and start identifying semantic needs, gaps, and strategies for implementing solutions.


The generation of environmental health science (EHS) data continues to increase at an exponential rate. Leveraging this data to answer complex large-scale research questions is a challenge today and will continue to be so as new methods emerge and sophisticated statistical and machine learning approaches are adopted and automated. .

One of the main goals of the NIEHS strategic plan is to support data on knowledge and action – the translational cascade of research results into a collective body of knowledge that ultimately informs and supports the public health action. The development of innovative data science and data-driven approaches is integral to this goal for EHS in particular, and health initiatives in general.

An essential element in creating knowledge from data is to describe the data in harmonized language. Applying harmonized language to environmental health data enhances its value by enabling consistent classification of data, increasing interoperability of databases, and promoting data sharing, reuse and reanalysis; thus accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries in EHS research.

To meet this challenge, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) seeks to foster a community initiative aimed at advancing integrative research in environmental health by developing and promoting the adoption of a harmonized language. This initiative is based on work started at a workshop sponsored by the NIEHS in September 2014 on Laying a Community Foundation for Semantic Data-Driven Standards in Environmental Health Sciences and build on the additional work carried out in the Calculable exposome workshop.


If you have any questions about the initiative, the community, or the workshop, please contact Stephanie Holmgren, Office of Data Science.



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