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Liliana Ferreira wins Best PhD Dissertation


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2012/04/20: Liliana da Silva Ferreira, former PhD student at IEETA and DETI, has been awarded the Best PhD Dissertation Prize regarding work on processing of the Portuguese language concluded in the last three years at the 10th International Conference on Computational Processing of the Portuguese Language ( for her work on “Medical Information Extraction in European Portuguese”.Liliana da Silva Ferreira PhD in Informatics was defended in July 2011 under the supervision of António J. S. Teixeira and João Paulo Cunha.


The electronic storage of medical patient data is becoming a daily experience in most of the practices and hospitals worldwide. However, much of the available data is in free text form, a convenient way of expressing concepts and events but especially challenging if one wants to perform automatic searches, summarization or statistical analyses. Information Extraction can relieve some of these problems by offering a semantically informed interpretation and abstraction of the texts. MedInX, the Medical Information eXtraction system developed in the context of this PhD dissertation is designed to process textual clinical discharge records written in Portuguese and to perform automatic and accurate mapping of free text reports onto a structured representation. MedInX components are based on Natural Language Processing principles, and provide several mechanisms to read, process and utilize external resources, such as terminologies and ontologies. MedInX current practical applications include automatic code assignment and an audit system capable of systematically analyze the content and completeness of the clinical reports. The evaluation of the system on a set of authentic patient discharge letters indicate that the system performs with 95% precision and recall.