Publication Date



Ontology based data structure, Otology of Biological Investigation, OBI, HDF5, OHC, electrophysiology, inner ear, collaboration, data science, voltage clamp


This data collection describes the electrical properties of outer hair cells isolated from the mammalian cochlea of the domestic guinea pig. This data was obtained by performing whole-cell patch clamp voltage clamp assay on cells and monitoring the electrical admittance during a DC voltage ramp. The membrane capacitance was then calculated at each membrane potential from this admittance, and the voltage-independent and voltage-dependent membrane capacitance was determined upon further analysis. In some case the DC conductance was also measured by interrogation of the cell with voltage-step function which was calculated from the change in the mean steady-state current with respect to DC voltage.

This data was originally stored in MATLAB in an unstructured format. This data has now been curated by a collaboration between the scientist (BF) and data architect (JB), and is now described with a variant of the Ontology of Biological Investigation (OBI) coined OBI based Inner Ear Electrophysiology (OBI_IEE)). The data has been transformed to the non-proprietary format: Hierarchical Data Format version 5 (HDF5) format where this application ontology was mirrored to provide the metadata and nested data architecture within HDF5. Each digital specimen is displayed in a tree configuration (like directories in a computer) and consists of six main branches based on the ontology classes.

The data collection contains six main items: (1) the original unstructured data in MATLAB; (2) the data files translated to HDF5 with metadata; (3) MATLAB scripts that facilitate the translation of the data from MATLAB to HDF5; (4) MATLAB scripts that facilitate the translation of the data back to MATLAB from HDF5; (5) MATLAB scripts used to analyze the data and (6) the OWL file describing the variant or application ontology OBI based Inner Ear Electrophysiology (OBI_IEE). The package contains 114 files.



Papers published where curation and archiving are described

Farrell, B, and Bengtson, J. Ontology based data architecture to promote data sharing in electrophysiology. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Biological Ontology (ICBO) August 7-10, 2018 Corvalis, Oregon USA. URL:

Farrell B, Bengtson J. Scientist and data architect collaborate to curate and archive an inner ear electrophysiology data collection. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 18;14(10):e0223984. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223984. PMID: 31626635; PMCID: PMC6799921.

Papers published where the scientific findings from the this data are described

Farrell B, Skidmore BL, Rajasekharan V, Brownell WE. A novel theoretical framework reveals more than one voltage-sensing pathway in the lateral membrane of outer hair cells. J Gen Physiol. 2020 Jul 6;152(7):e201912447. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201912447. PMID: 32384538; PMCID: PMC7335013.

Corbitt C, Farinelli F, Brownell WE, Farrell B. Tonotopic relationships reveal the charge density varies along the lateral wall of outer hair cells. Biophys J. 2012 2012/06/20/;102(12):2715-24. PubMed PMID: 22735521. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3379021.

OWL file of the ontology can be found

Farrell, B., and J. Bengtson. 2019. The Ontology for Biomedical Investigation based Inner Ear Electrophysiology OBI_IEE.

GitHub site also contains the scripts and OWL file with further details found in The site’s URL is

HDF5 (44955 kB)
Data stored in HDF5

Original (48946 kB)
Original data within MATLAB

OBI_IEE.owl (6275 kB)
OWL file with application ontology (27 kB)
Scripts that convert data to HDF5 (4 kB)
Scripts that convert HDF5 files back to MATLAB (8 kB)
Scripts used to analyze data