Shared University Research (SUR) Program


Michael Atwood
Chaomei Chen
Xia Lin
Katherine W. McCain


Davis Zhou
Weizhong Zhu
Min Song


Server Admin
Server Document
DB2 Admin


Knowledge Discovery with Information Visualization

Funded and supported by the IBM Shared University Research (SUR) program, a series of inter-related projects are currently underway at the College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University. These projects apply various information visualization techniques to support data analysis, concept exploration, and knowledge discovery in various health-related information resources. A main goal of all the projects is to empower users' cognitive ability when interacting with a vast amount of information. Information visualization allows users to see, track and interact with networks of concept relationships derived from the literature which otherwise would be difficult to follow. The following projects demonstrate various new ways of exploring, learning, and discovering in the digital information environment.


(All the demo prototypes are developed in Java. You need to have a Java plugin for your browser to test these systems. If you donot have it, click here to download Java plugin first.)

Visual Concept Explorer

Visual Concept Explorer for exploration of semantic relationships of medical concepts

Visual Concept Explorer (VCE) is a semantic mapping tool for exploring the relationships of MeSH concepts. MeSH is the controlled vocabulary thesaurus for the National Library of Medicine. VCE generates a semantic map of MeSH terms most closely related to the term entered by the user. The user can choose to have 25, 50, 75 or 100 MeSH terms related to the search term displayed on the map. The map shows how the terms are related to each other based on term co-occurrence analysis of the entire MEDLINE database. The user can click on any term that appears on the map to generate a new map for that term. This iterative process guides the user in navigating through relationships of complex medical concepts.



What's New

What's New

"What's New" is a new exploratory visual interface for PUBMED search engine. It provides an overview of a search result before showing the details. The overview display indicates the distribution of search results over the last 10 years and shows new concepts that occur each year. The "More..." buttons allow the user to take a more close look of each year's results. The user can "pick and choose" from a list of concepts that occur most often in the results and refine the search through new boolean queries constructed visually.



CiteSpace for analyzing and visualizing networks derived from the literature

CiteSpace visualizations track the evolution of networks over time and pinpoint pivotal points during the underlying transformation process. In addition, the interactive visualizations allow the user to use CiteSpace as a gateway to exploring online repositories of scientific literature, such as PubMed, the ACM Digital Library, and many special collections such as:

  • Anasazi (1990-2003) - the collapsed civilization
  • Mass Extinction (1981-2003) - the debates of mass extinction
  • Heart Diseases (1990-2004) - clinical studies
  • NSF IIS Awards (1998-2004) - thematic patterns in abstracts of awarded projects
  • JAMIA (1994-2004) - a hybrid network of frequently used terms in and cited papers by the journal
  • Terrorism (1990-2004) - shift of focus: terrorist bombing, bioterrorism, and PTSD
Please contact Chaomei Chen at for additional information.




This prototype allows the user to search for medical concepts in UMLS directly. Two steps are involved. The initial search results inform the user of many relevant concepts so that the user can select a specific concept from the list of results for visualization. Based on the selected concept and the size chosen by the user, the second UMLS search will be launched to construct a network as specified.

The underlying functionality of MeshSpace is the same as Visual Concept Exploer. They provide visualization of the same information in different formats

Please contact Chaomei Chen at for additional information.