NCBI was established in November 1988, at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the United States. The NLM was chosen because it had experience in creating and maintaining biomedical databases and as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it could establish an intramural research program in computational molecular biology. The mission of the NCBI is to develop new information technologies to aid in the understanding of fundamental molecular and genetic processes that control health and disease.
The NCBI has a series of databases relevant to biotechnology and biomedicine and is an important resource for bioinformatics tools and services. Major databases include GenBank for DNA sequences and PubMed, a bibliographic database for biomedical literature. Other databases include the NCBI Epigenomics database. All these databases are available online through the Entrez search engine. Entrez is an integrated database retrieval system that provides access to a diverse set of 37 databases that together contain 690 million records at NCBI.
NCBI’s mission is to develop new information technologies to help in the understanding of fundamental molecular and genetic processes that control health and disease. More specifically, the NCBI has been charged with optimizing 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.
The NCBI Bookshelf is a collection of freely accessible, downloadable, on-line versions, covers a wide range of topics including molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, microbiology, disease states from a molecular and cellular point of view, research methods, and virology.
Gene has been implemented at NCBI to characterize and organize the information about genes. A unique GeneID is assigned to each gene record that can be followed through revision cycles.
Entrez is NCBI’s primary text search and retrieval system that integrates the PubMed database of biomedical literature with 38 other literature and molecular databases including DNA and protein sequence, structure, gene, genome, genetic variation and gene expression.
BLAST is one of the more popular bioinformatics tools. Researchers use command-line applications to perform searches locally, often searching custom databases and performing searches in bulk, possibly distributing the searches on their own computer cluster.
- conducts research on fundamental biomedical problems at the molecular level using mathematical and computational methods
- maintains collaborations with several NIH institutes, academia, industry, and other governmental agencies
- fosters scientific communication by sponsoring meetings, workshops, and lecture series
- supports training on basic and applied research in computational biology for postdoctoral fellows through the NIH Intramural Research Program
- engages members of the international scientific community in informatics research and training through the Scientific Visitors Program
- develops, distributes, supports, and coordinates access to a variety of databases and software for the scientific and medical communities
- develops and promotes standards for databases, data deposition and exchange, and biological nomenclature