The SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics just launched the new generation of ExPASy, a web portal which offers a point of entry to more than 120 SIB bioinformatics resources. Until now, ExPASy was known as a proteomics-dedicated website used by life sciences researchers worldwide. Created in 1993, this resource was the first website available for the biomedical research at a time when the world counted only 150 websites as a whole. Eighteen years later, ExPASy is still an indispensable resource worldwide. Its transformation into a bioinformatics resource portal with the possibility to search for data in various interconnected fields such as proteomics, genomics, phylogeny, systems biology, evolution, drug design and imaging will allow life science researchers to optimise their research activities through access to an enriched set of high-quality data.
ExPASy, the proteomics website, was created 18 years ago, at the early stages of Internet and shared bioinformatics resources. At that time, it was already important for life scientists to access information on bacteria, viruses, proteins and genes for example and the appearance of the Web fostered this information exchange. The availability of new technologies during the past decade has revolutionised the life sciences research activities with the sequencing of more and more genomes. This resulted in the production of daunting amounts of data, which need to be stored, analysed and disseminated in order to extract the knowledge necessary to help research progress and create drugs or vaccines. These tasks would not be possible without the use of bioinformatics tools such as databases, analysis software, modeling tools, powerful computers and multi-skilled people. SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics has been developing avant-garde resources to meet the evolving needs of life sciences researchers. Up to now, the institute produced more than 120 resources in various fields such as proteomics, genomics, phylogeny, systems biology, evolution, drug design and imaging which are freely accessible to the worldwide research community. Today, well aware of the need to interconnect these various activities, SIB goes a step further and releases a bioinformatics portal which will be the main entry point to all its precious resources. "The new ExPASy portal reflects the evolution of bioinformatics activities and of SIB, which since its creation in 1998 grew to a leading institute with many scientific competencies and resources used in European and worldwide interconnected research projects", explains Prof. Ron Appel, SIB Executive Director.
A single door to a realm of high-quality bioinformatics resources and knowledge
Since the release of the first ExPASy website, SIB has been creating and maintaining many other bioinformatics resources in various fields. Moreover, well aware of today's challenges the life sciences research community is facing, SIB's 28 research and service groups work closely together to interconnect their various tools. A researcher working on a malfunctioning protein causing a cancer is thus able to access all the knowledge available about the protein and to simultaneously test a putative new drug molecule via modeling tools to see if the treatment could block or release targeted functions. The new ExPASy resource portal now groups all SIB bioinformatics tools and databases in one location and therefore allows researchers a quick access to all competencies available in their research field. Dr Heinz Stockinger, Senior Scientist and project coordinator of the SIB Web Team, that has been working on the optimisation of SIB's websites, explains that "ExPASy is a complete and organised portal which we constructed to allow scientists a quick and optimised research. We included an integrated search functionality and a clear visual guidance interface so that even new users get easily acquainted with all available resources".
SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics is an academic not-for-profit foundation recognised of public utility. It federates bioinformatics activities throughout Switzerland. Its two-fold mission is to provide world-class core bioinformatics resources to the national and international life science research community in key fields such as genomics, proteomics and systems biology, as well as to lead and coordinate the field of bioinformatics in Switzerland. It has a long-standing tradition of producing state-of-the-art software for the life science research community, as well as carefully annotated databases. SIB includes 28 world-class research and service groups, which gather 450 researchers, in the fields of proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics, systems biology, structural bioinformatics, evolutionary bioinformatics, modelling, imaging, biophysics, and population genetics in Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich. SIB expertise is widely appreciated and its services are used by Life Sciences researchers worldwide. www.isb-sib.ch
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