The Medical Action Ontology: A Tool for Annotating and Analyzing Treatments and Clinical Management of Human Disease

Publication date: Jul 12, 2023

Navigating the vast landscape of clinical literature to find optimal treatments and management strategies can be a challenging task, especially for rare diseases. To address this task, we introduce the Medical Action Ontology (MAxO), the first ontology specifically designed to organize medical procedures, therapies, and interventions in a structured way. Currently, MAxO contains 1757 medical action terms added through a combination of manual and semi-automated processes. MAxO was developed with logical structures that make it compatible with several other ontologies within the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry. These cover a wide range of biomedical domains, from human anatomy and investigations to the chemical and protein entities involved in biological processes. We have created a database of over 16000 annotations that describe diagnostic modalities for specific phenotypic abnormalities as defined by the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO). Additionally, 413 annotations are provided for medical actions for 189 rare diseases. We have developed a web application called POET ( for the community to use to contribute MAxO annotations. MAxO provides a computational representation of treatments and other actions taken for the clinical management of patients. The development of MAxO is closely coupled to the Mondo Disease Ontology (Mondo) and the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) and expands the scope of our computational modeling of diseases and phenotypic features to include diagnostics and therapeutic actions. MAxO is available under the open-source CC-BY 4.0 license (


Concepts Keywords
Medicinefarmingtonctunited Action
Migraine Actions
Ontario Annotations
Tucson Clinical


Type Source Name
disease MESH rare diseases
disease MESH abnormalities
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH Allergy
drug DRUGBANK Ubidecarenone
disease MESH epilepsy
drug DRUGBANK Acetylsalicylic acid
drug DRUGBANK Acetaminophen
disease MESH migraine
disease MESH Marfan syndrome
disease MESH intracranial hypotension
disease MESH ectasia
disease MESH infarcts
disease MESH leukoencephalopathy
disease MESH ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency
drug DRUGBANK Ammonia
disease MESH etiology
drug DRUGBANK Folic Acid
disease MESH Anemia
disease MESH Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
disease MESH complications
disease MESH obesity
disease MESH dehydration
disease MESH Carnitine Acylcarnitine Translocase Deficiency
disease MESH Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome
drug DRUGBANK L-Glutamine
disease MESH coenzyme Q10 deficiency
disease MESH G6PD deficiency
disease MESH lens dislocation
drug DRUGBANK Serotonin
drug DRUGBANK Norepinephrine
drug DRUGBANK Fluoxetine
disease MESH congenital myasthenic syndrome
disease MESH Von Hippel Lindau syndrome
disease MESH hemangioblastoma
drug DRUGBANK Pyridoxine
drug DRUGBANK Pyridoxamine
drug DRUGBANK Phosphate ion
disease MESH myotonic dystrophy
disease MESH cystic fibrosis
disease MESH inborn errors metabolism
disease MESH genetic diseases
disease MESH cancer
drug DRUGBANK Guanosine
disease MESH refractory epilepsy
disease MESH undiagnosed disease

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