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Public collections of DNA and RNA sequence reach 100 gigabases

that pioneered the open exchange of biological information."

In the late 1970s, as researchers started to study organisms at the level of their genetic code, several groups began to explore the possibility of developing a public repository for sequence information. In the early 1980s this led to the launch of two databases: the first was the EMBL Data Library, based at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] in Heidelberg, Germany [the Data Library is now known as EMBL Bank and is based at EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, UK]. Hot on its heels came GenBank, initially hosted by the Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL] and now based at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, MD, USA. Both of these databases were seeded by collections begun by far-sighted individuals: EMBL Bank by the collection of Kurt Stuber, then based at the University of Cologne in Germany, and GenBank by the collection of Walter Goad at LANL. The two nascent databases began collaborating very early on, an interaction that was initiated by Greg Hamm, the EMBL Data Library's first employee. Staff at the two databases, which at that time had to find sequences in published journal articles and re-key them into the databases, allocated journals to each team to avoid duplication of effort, and began the arduous task of mapping the fields from one database onto those of the other so that they could exchange information. By the time the International Nucleotide Sequence Consortium became formalized in February 1987, a third partner, the DNA Data Bank of Japan, had been launched at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, and collaborated with its European and US counterparts right from the start.

Much has changed since the days when sequences were manually keyed in from the literature or sent on floppy disc and distributed to users on 9-track magnetic tapes, but the purpose of the databases - to make every nucleotide sequence in the
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Source:European Molecular Biology Laboratory


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