François Remy


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Boosting Adverse Drug Event Normalization on Social Media: General-Purpose Model Initialization and Biomedical Semantic Text Similarity Benefit Zero-Shot Linking in Informal Contexts
François Remy | Simone Scaboro | Beatrice Portelli
Proceedings of the 11th International Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Social Media

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Detecting Idiomatic Multiword Expressions in Clinical Terminology using Definition-Based Representation Learning
François Remy | Alfiya Khabibullina | Thomas Demeester
Proceedings of the 19th Workshop on Multiword Expressions (MWE 2023)

This paper shines a light on the potential of definition-based semantic models for detecting idiomatic and semi-idiomatic multiword expressions (MWEs) in clinical terminology. Our study focuses on biomedical entities defined in the UMLS ontology and aims to help prioritize the translation efforts of these entities. In particular, we develop an effective tool for scoring the idiomaticity of biomedical MWEs based on the degree of similarity between the semantic representations of those MWEs and a weighted average of the representation of their constituents. We achieve this using a biomedical language model trained to produce similar representations for entity names and their definitions, called BioLORD. The importance of this definition-based approach is highlighted by comparing the BioLORD model to two other state-of-the-art biomedical language models based on Transformer: SapBERT and CODER. Our results show that the BioLORD model has a strong ability to identify idiomatic MWEs, not replicated in other models. Our corpus-free idiomaticity estimation helps ontology translators to focus on more challenging MWEs.

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BioDEX: Large-Scale Biomedical Adverse Drug Event Extraction for Real-World Pharmacovigilance
Karel D’Oosterlinck | François Remy | Johannes Deleu | Thomas Demeester | Chris Develder | Klim Zaporojets | Aneiss Ghodsi | Simon Ellershaw | Jack Collins | Christopher Potts
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Timely and accurate extraction of Adverse Drug Events (ADE) from biomedical literature is paramount for public safety, but involves slow and costly manual labor. We set out to improve drug safety monitoring (pharmacovigilance, PV) through the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP). We introduce BioDEX, a large-scale resource for Biomedical adverse Drug Event eXtraction, rooted in the historical output of drug safety reporting in the U.S. BioDEX consists of 65k abstracts and 19k full-text biomedical papers with 256k associated document-level safety reports created by medical experts. The core features of these reports include the reported weight, age, and biological sex of a patient, a set of drugs taken by the patient, the drug dosages, the reactions experienced, and whether the reaction was life threatening. In this work, we consider the task of predicting the core information of the report given its originating paper. We estimate human performance to be 72.0% F1, whereas our best model achieves 59.1% F1 (62.3 validation), indicating significant headroom. We also begin to explore ways in which these models could help professional PV reviewers. Our code and data are available at

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Automatic Glossary of Clinical Terminology: a Large-Scale Dictionary of Biomedical Definitions Generated from Ontological Knowledge
François Remy | Kris Demuynck | Thomas Demeester
The 22nd Workshop on Biomedical Natural Language Processing and BioNLP Shared Tasks

Background: More than 400.000 biomedical concepts and some of their relationships are contained in SnomedCT, a comprehensive biomedical ontology. However, their concept names are not always readily interpretable by non-experts, or patients looking at their own electronic health records (EHR). Clear definitions or descriptions in understandable language or often not available. Therefore, generating human-readable definitions for biomedical concepts might help make the information they encode more accessible and understandable to a wider public. Objective: In this article, we introduce the Automatic Glossary of Clinical Terminology (AGCT), a large-scale biomedical dictionary of clinical concepts generated using high-quality information extracted from the biomedical knowledge contained in SnomedCT.Methods: We generate a novel definition for every SnomedCT concept, after prompting the OpenAI Turbo model, a variant of GPT 3.5, using a high-quality verbalization of the SnomedCT relationships of the to-be-defined concept. A significant subset of the generated definitions was subsequently evaluated by NLP researchers with biomedical expertise on 5-point scales along the following three axes: factuality, insight, and fluency. Results: AGCT contains 422,070 computer-generated definitions for SnomedCT concepts, covering various domains such as diseases, procedures, drugs, and anatomy. The average length of the definitions is 49 words. The definitions were assigned average scores of over 4.5 out of 5 on all three axes, indicating a majority of factual, insightful, and fluent definitions. Conclusion: AGCT is a novel and valuable resource for biomedical tasks that require human-readable definitions for SnomedCT concepts. It can also serve as a base for developing robust biomedical retrieval models or other applications that leverage natural language understanding of biomedical knowledge.


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BioLORD: Learning Ontological Representations from Definitions for Biomedical Concepts and their Textual Descriptions
François Remy | Kris Demuynck | Thomas Demeester
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

This work introduces BioLORD, a new pre-training strategy for producing meaningful representations for clinical sentences and biomedical concepts. State-of-the-art methodologies operate by maximizing the similarity in representation of names referring to the same concept, and preventing collapse through contrastive learning. However, because biomedical names are not always self-explanatory, it sometimes results in non-semantic representations. BioLORD overcomes this issue by grounding its concept representations using definitions, as well as short descriptions derived from a multi-relational knowledge graph consisting of biomedical ontologies. Thanks to this grounding, our model produces more semantic concept representations that match more closely the hierarchical structure of ontologies. BioLORD establishes a new state of the art for text similarity on both clinical sentences (MedSTS) and biomedical concepts (MayoSRS).