Subcommittee on Nomenclature for Properties and Units (SC-NPU)


In laboratory medicine one of the most basic, but important, challenges is to ensure that we have a common understanding of what is being measured in what biological system, and of how the results will be expressed and in what units. To address this issue, IUPAC, the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC), and the Danish National e-Health Authority (DeHA) have in partnership developed, tested and refined an intuitive and comprehensive Nomenclature for Properties and Units (NPU) terminology. Since January 2014, a formal agreement provides a template for greater international promotion of NPU terminology as an aid to harmonized practice and better patient safety (See 29 Jan 2014 release).

Within the IUPAC Chemistry and Human Health Division, the SubCommittee on Nomenclature, Properties and Units (SC-NPU) contributes to the development of NPU projects and code system. In parallel, a joint IUPAC Subcommittee and the IFCC Committee for NPU (C-SC-NPU) supports this collaborative project. See info page on

The NPU Steering Committee held its annual face-to-face meeting on 11 June 2017 in connection to the EuroMedLab in Athens. From the top and left to right: Jan Kjartan Dybvik (Norway); Colin Humphris (IUPAC); Philippe Gillery (IFCC); Howard Morris (IFCC President); Gunnar Nordin (Sweden); Helle Moller Johannessen (Denmark); Ulla Magdal Petersen (Denmark); Robert Flatman (Australia)

Current Projects

Meeting Minutes

Activity Reports


Publications and Resources

What is the NPU Terminology, and how is it used – Video and flyer  (2020)

– The 2016 “Silver Book” or Compendium of Terminology and Nomenclature of Properties Clinical Laboratory Sciences (Silver book)

See book page for details @ or corresponding IUPAC project 2007-033-3-700

– NPU Laboratory Terminology website —

This website makes available the complete contents of the generic NPU codes for electronic downloading. The website outlines the structure of the NPU terminology and provides instructions for using the database.

– Background publications for IFCC-IUPAC coding system

This page provides references and access to a collection of PAC articles and books that constitute the background for the IFCC-IUPAC coding system for laboratory investigations.

– Poster [pdf-379KB] presented at EuroMedLab 2007

– An Ontology of Property (doi:10.1351/978-87-990010-1-9 – PDF)

In 2004 Dr Rene Dybkaer issued his seminal book “An Ontology of Property for Physical, Chemical and Biological Systems.” It is an ontology in the sense of 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 2009 revised version here made available, includes the progress in formal metrology as laid down in the 3rd edition of the International vocabulary of metrology — Basic and general concepts and associated terms (VIM) (BIPM). It gives a logical and detailed explanation of concepts that are fundamental to understand measurements, assumptions and conclusions in metrology.