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Bio Saga

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

GenBank celebrates 25 years of service

Leading scientists discuss DNA database at April 7-8 Meeting

For a quarter century, GenBank has helped advance scientific discovery worldwide. Established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1982, the database of nucleic acid sequences is one of the key tools that scientists use to conduct biomedical and biologic research. Since its creation, GenBank has grown at an exponential rate, doubling in size every 18 months. In celebration of this vital resource and its contribution to science over the last 25 years, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine (NLM), NIH, is holding a two-day conference on GenBank.

The conference will take place April 7-8, 2008 at the Natcher Conference Center on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. For details on the meeting, see the conference Web site, at The conference is open to the public and also will be available via live and archived webcast; the April 7 proceedings can be viewed at and the April 8 proceedings at

The conference will bring together a slate of world-renowned scientists in molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics and other areas to discuss GenBank's applications, the discoveries it has enabled, its history, and future directions. Speakers include Rich Roberts, Ph.D., a Nobel Prize winner for his discoveries of split genes, and currently Chief Scientific Officer at New England BioLabs; Sydney Brenner, Ph.D., a Nobel Prize winner for his work on genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death, and currently a professor at the Salk Institute; Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who led the Human Genome Project and is Director of NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute; and Craig Venter, Ph.D., who led the private-sector effort to sequence the human genome and is President of the J. Craig Venter Institute. More than a dozen other eminent scientists will be speaking; the full list of presenters can be viewed at the GenBank conference Web site.

"Each day, researchers across the world submit tens of thousands of sequences to GenBank and collaborating databases in Europe and Japan," said Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D., Director of the National Library of Medicine. "Because of these contributions, GenBank has become an essential tool for molecular biology. The National Library of Medicine is proud to partner with the research community in making this valuable resource available."

Rich Roberts, Ph।D., Chief Scientific Officer at New England BioLabs, commented, "GenBank has provided a foundation upon which much of contemporary biology is now based. It is becoming almost impossible to conceive of any serious biological study of a new organism that does not begin with the determination of its DNA sequence, which of course must be stored in GenBank." Roberts, one of the early proponents of the database, added, "the availability of this wealth of sequence information in a single repository is something we could only dream about in 1979 at the Rockefeller Conference that led to its creation and which we could not imagine being without today."

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