Free public services from the European Bioinformatics Institute, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory outstation.

Nicola Harte1, Rodrigo Lopez2, Karyn Duggan, Rob Harper, Asif Kibria, Adam Lowe, Gulam Patel, Sharmila Pillai, Emmanuel Quevillon, Stephen Robinson, Ville Silventoinen, EMBL-EBI;, EMBL-EBI

Modern advances in sequencing technologies as well as recent developments in advanced analysis protocols have lead to an avalanche of data in the biological sciences. It is imperative that this data as well as the tools to efficiently analyse it are made available in a free and unambiguous way to the scientific community. An important part of the EBI's mission is to make this happen in a fast, reliable and efficient manner.

The EBI produces more than 30 biological databases, that contain data from a wide range of areas including DNA and protein sequences, protein functions and structural coordinates and more recently, microarray experiments. This wealth of curated biological knowledge is accessible for browsing and retrieval via a number of information services including the WWW, ftp and email servers and by programmatic interfaces using XML/SOAP based Web Services. Many popular bioinformatics tools are available for performing detailed analysis on the data obtained. These tools include those for analysing sequences, protein function and structure and those for doing homology and sequence similarity searching. The SRS server at the EBI allows browsing and data retrieval from more than 150 biological databases and provides the option of carrying out further analysis on query results, through the 100 specialised applications that are available in the system.

In fulfilling its role as a data provider, the EBI's databases depend on the willingness of scientists to make their experimental results publicly available. Intuitive web forms are provided for submitting sequencing, microarray experiment and structural data (

Given the interdisciplinary nature of bioinformatics, training and education are an important task at the EBI. The web based resource 2can bioinformatics provides short and concise introductions to basic concepts in molecular biology and bioinformatics and contains detailed tutorials on the use of the databases and tools available from the EBI and its collaborators. The scope of this educational resource is broad and it is intended to cater for the needs of a wide audience including newcomers to biology, experienced biologists and computer programmers.

The EBI's help desk provides support for all queries regarding its products and services and bioinformatics in general. The user is encouraged to contact us at