32 No. 3
An Ontology on Property for Physical, Chemical, and Biological Systems
by René Dybkaer
2009, ISBN 978-87-990010-1-9
IUPAC has published an electronic version of René Dybkær’s seminal book An Ontology on Property for Physical, Chemical, and Biological Systems. This treatise presents the author’s analyses and thinking through some 40 years on the theory of laboratory procedures. It is an ontology in the sense of Hegel (i.e., a combination of logic and metaphysics, clarifying and giving coherence to concepts in the laboratory domain from physical, chemical, and biological points of view). The reader is taken on excursions into philosophy and history of science, in preparation of the main tour into metrology and terminology. The text is written with the formidable attention to detail and correctness that characterizes its author. These properties may well turn out to ensure a perhaps small but long lasting readership. This treatise has been reviewed and acclaimed by authorities in analytical chemistry, laboratory medicine, and metrology.
The present second edition of Dybkær’s book that has been e-published by IUPAC includes the progress in formal metrology as laid down in the third edition of the in the 3rd edition of the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM 3): Basic and General Concepts and Associated Terms (JCGM 200:2008) [see Nov-Dec 2008 CI, p. 21; or www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2008/
3006/bw2_vim.html]. It gives a logical and detailed explanation of concepts that are fundamental for understanding measurements, assumptions, and conclusions in metrology. The e-publication of Dybkær’s work is indeed timely since there is a pressing need for a sound foundation for laboratory IT standards, which affect all fields of science, particularly communication within electronic health care information systems and their global connectivity. IUPAC has a worldwide leadership role in communicating clinical laboratory data, together with its partners, the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) and the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation that owns the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms (learn more at <www.ihtsdo.org>).
About the Author
René Dybkær was born in Copenhagen 7 February 1926. He graduated in medicine from the University of Copenhagen in 1951. Apart from some odd jobs in other specialties, he has devoted his professional and still active career to the domain “clinical laboratories.” (Devoted here is used in the sense of a devotee, that is, a zealous enthusiast.) As such, Dybkær has initiated, chaired, participated in, and contributed to a number of professional groups and organizations responsible for the development of laboratory medicine. In particular, he was chair of the Scientific Committee of IFCC; chair of the IUPAC Commission on Nomenclature, Properties and Units, president of the Division of Clinical Chemistry; and president of IFCC.
René Dybkær (left) and IUPAC President Nicole Moreau during the IUPAC General Assembly in Glasgow, UK, August 2009.
René Dybkær is one of the leading authorities on terminology. A central theme for his scientific and organizational efforts is the net outcome and presentation of the clinical laboratory work on properties of patients for use in diagnosis and treatment. His seminal publication from 1967, Quantities and Units in Clinical Chemistry, coauthored with Kjeld Jørgensen, established standards for written reports on laboratory results, which has markedly influenced daily practice in the Nordic countries and in several other countries as well. Such a systematic approach ensures that information gathered in a laboratory will be correctly transferred to the patients’ records in the health information system.
Friends of René know him as a man of numerous interests and talents. As a sportsman and national champion in epee fencing he may have developed his patience, elegance, and tirelessness, which is typical of his performances in collaborative work. His sense of humor and modesty are other valuable assets. He likes music and has contributed on his clarinet in private settings. He has even utilized one hobby—philately—as a source of inspiration for a lecture: For the opening address to an international congress in clinical chemistry, he discussed the role of laboratory science as portrayed on stamps (in this issue’s “Stamps International” column is a portrait of Johann Heller, a 19th-century pioneer of clinical chemistry).
René Dybkær has received many expressions of appreciation from his peers, among others the Henry Wishinsky Distiguished International Service Award from IFCC (1993) for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of metrology in clinical chemistry and the James O. Westgard Quality Award (1998) for his long-lasting, patient, and successful efforts to improve quality and cooperation in clinical chemistry worldwide.
last modified 12 May 2010.
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