Community Learning Space

The infraNET Project and 
Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research
at the University of Waterloo

present ...

Creating a Vocabulary of Medicine:
From SNOP to SNOMED International


Roger Côté 
Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke
President of the Secretariat International de Nomenclature Medicale (SFINM)

Wednesday, November  26, 2003
3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Davis Centre, Room 1302
University of Waterloo

This Seminar is Sponsored by:
Orion Systems International & Sierra Systems

This seminar is of interest to Health and IT Executives, IS/IT Staff, Faculty and Students.
There is no charge for this event, however, we ask that you register to attend.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Presentation Archive 2003-2004


Roger Côté is world-renowned for his work in medical vocabulary development, having led the creation of the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED). A Pathologist, Côté recognized that the Systematized Nomenclature of Pathology (SNOP), used to describe specimens, could be the basis for a comprehensive vocabulary of clinical medicine. First published in 1965, it was immediately used in English-speaking countries and translated into numerous languages. In 1971, Sherbrooke created a French version of  SNOP, and used it in semi-automatic coding of diagnoses in collaboration with Dr. Arnold Pratt at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Côté's and Pratt's early successes encouraged the College of American Pathologists to undertake the extension of their work to all of medicine. Côté was appointed chair of this enormous task, which, after developing SNOMED I and II, led to SNOMED International. Since 1995, SNOMED has evolved further with SNOMED-RT (Reference Terminology) and currently SNOMED-CT (Clinical Terms). The UK and U.S. have now accepted SNOMED-CT as a standard. His seminal work which began with expanding the 4-axis terminology of SNOP, ultimately led to an 11-axis vocabulary that encompasses all aspects of clinical medicine. We consider it the greatest Canadian achievement in Health Informatics.

This seminar will present highlights of the work in developing a vocabulary of medicine.

Roger Côté obtained his doctorate in medicine from the Université de Montreal in 1955 and a Master of Science in Experimental Pathology from Marquette University in 1964. He began his academic career at Marquette University and continued at Tufts University and Harvard University. In 1969, he joined the Université de Sherbrooke as professor of Pathology and department head. From 1983-1988, he was Secretary of the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Sherbrooke. In 1973, he was named Chairman of the Committee on Nomenclature and Classification of Diseases of the College of American Pathologists and developed the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) from 1973 to 1993.

In recent years, he has worked on the French translation of this nomenclature for use in Quebec. This work in the field of medical nomenclature was recognized by his peers in the United States when, in November 1979, he was awarded the "Outstanding Meritorious Service Award" by the College of American Pathologists. In 1992, he was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree for his work by the University of Victoria and in 1997, he received the "Pathologist of the Year" award. Currently, Roger Côté is President of the Secretariat Francophone International de Nomenclature Medicale (SFINM). He is also a diplomat of the American Board of Pathology in both Anatomic and Clinical Pathology.

For more information

Shirley Fenton
Managing Director, WIHIR
The infraNET Project
Computer Systems Group, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4074

Seminar Hosts

This seminar is hosted by the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research (WIHIR) and The infraNET Project, University of Waterloo.

The infraNET Project, initiated by the University of Waterloo in 1996, is a partnership to advance Web and Internet technologies. Its founding partners are: LivePage (now part of Siebel), MKS, Open Text, RIM, Sybase (Waterloo) and Waterloo Maple.

We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Institute for Computer Research, University of Waterloo.