1. What is bioinformatics?
The merger of biotechnology and information technology with the goal of revealing new insights and principles in biology
3. What is the mission of NCBI?
As a national resource for molecular biology information, NCBI’s mission is to develop new information technologies to aid in the understanding of fundamental molecular and genetic processes that control health and disease. More specifically, the NCBI has been charged with creating automated systems for storing and analyzing knowledge about molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics; facilitating the use of such databases and software by the research and medical community; coordinating efforts to gather biotechnology information both nationally and internationally; and performing research into advanced methods of computer-based information processing for analyzing the structure and function of biologically important molecules.
4. What are some of NCBI’s programs and activities?
Basic Research—Scientists from various disciplines from molecular biologist to computer scientists work at NCBI to study fundamental biomedical problems. Some of the problems they address include detection and analysis of gene organization, repeating sequence patterns, protein domains and structural elements, creation of a gene map of the human genome, and mathematical modeling of the kinetics of HIV infection. NCBI scientists also collaborate with numerous institutions and academic institutions.
Databases and Software—
GenBank is DNA sequence database. NSBI scientists build the database from sequences submitted by individual laboratories and by data exchange with the international nucleotide sequence databases. NCBI supports and distributes a variety of databases for the medical and scientific communities.
Entrez is NCBI’s search and retrieval system that provides users with integrated access to sequence, mapping, taxonomy, and structural data and graphical views of sequences and chromosome maps.
BLAST is a program that executes sequence searches against the entire DNA database in less than 15 seconds. NCBI also has e-mail servers that provide an alternative way to access the databases for text searching or sequence-similarity searching.
5. How have computers changed biological research?
Computers have greatly accelerated scientists’ ability to analyze, store, compare, and share data, especially DNA sequences. Computer software helps scientists model DNA and protein structure. Collaboration between scientists is faster as research information can be shared over the Internet.
6. What is a story of discovery through NCBI resources?
• NCBI resources helped researchers identify genes that cause diseases.
• GenBank stores sequences from the many laboratories around the world that are sequencing genes and makes them available for other researchers to review.
7. How are gene discovery and NCBI helping to find cures for diseases?
One example of gene discovery: the HNPCC gene that causes colorectal cancer was identified using NCBI gene bank resources. This information has been used to develop blood tests to identify carriers and initiate medical care to save lives.