On the occasion of the Biocuration Conference 2016 in Geneva, the Swiss-Prot protein database will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Geneva is the town of origin of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the cradle of the most important protein encyclopedia in the world.
It all began on a very small scale in Geneva with Amos Bairoch, then a PhD student, who created his own protein database for the software package (PC/Gene) he was developing. As the interest in his database grew, Amos contacted the EMBL to ask if they could distribute it by tape along with the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence database. This was the beginning of a 30 years collaboration with what is now the EBI. When the web arrived, the database became available through the first website in the biomedical field, www.expasy.org. Thirty years on, the UniprotKB/Swiss-Prot database contains 550,000 protein sequences that are curated by a team of over 70 experts in Geneva, Hinxton and Washington D.C. It is now freely accessible on the UniProt website, which is visited by an average of over 500,000 users per month, viewing app. 4,6 million pages, making it the most important protein encyclopedia in the world.
Today, UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot is the most widely used protein information resource in the world. It provides concise, but thorough, descriptions of a non-redundant set of hundreds of thousands of proteins including their function, domain structure, post-translational modifications and variants. Its high-quality annotation is the fruit of manual expert curation by biologists who use information available in the scientific literature to provide an accurate description of each protein’s features. This task is performed in collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton (UK) and the Protein Information Resource (PIR) in Georgetown (USA).
The Swiss-Prot group at the SIB is one of the largest groups in the Institute. Fourteen of the group members figure among the current list of the most frequently cited researchers based on the Thomson Reuters Web of Science platform covering scientific publications between 2003 and 2013. The SIB Swiss-Prot group is also turning 30 in 2016; it has evolved with the database, lived through major crises and its members are still passionate about biocuration. The SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics is currently a renowned independent, non-profit foundation that includes some 60 bioinformatics research and service groups and some 750 scientists from the major Swiss schools of higher education and research institutes. SIB provides life scientists and clinicians in academia and industry with world-class bioinformatics.
The 30 years Swiss-Prot celebration takes place in Geneva on Sunday 10 April in the evening as the opening event of the 9th Biocuration meeting.