European Bioinformatics Institute

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) is an International Governmental Organization (IGO) which, as part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) family, focuses on research and services in bioinformatics. It is located on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton near Cambridge, and employs over 600 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff.[3]

European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)
Coordinates52.079889, 0.186356
Ewan Birney
Rolf Apweiler
Parent organization
European Molecular Biology Laboratory


The roots of the EMBL-EBI lie in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Data Library[4] (now known as EMBL-Bank), which was established in 1980 at the EMBL laboratories in Heidelberg, Germany and was the world's first nucleotide sequence database.[5] The original goal was to establish a central computer database of DNA sequences, to supplement sequences submitted to journals. What began as a modest task of abstracting information from literature soon became a major database activity with direct electronic submissions of data and the need for highly skilled informatics staff. The task grew in scale with the start of the genome projects, and grew in visibility as the data became relevant to research in the commercial sector. It soon became apparent that the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Data Library needed better financial security to ensure its long-term viability and to cope with the sheer scale of the task.

There was also a need for research and development to provide services, to collaborate with global partners to support the project, and to provide assistance to industry. To this end, in 1992, the EMBL Council voted to establish the European Bioinformatics Institute and to locate it at the Wellcome Genome Campus in the United Kingdom where it would be in close proximity to the major sequencing efforts at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. From 1992 through to 1994, a gradual transition of the activities in Heidelberg took place, until in September 1994 the EMBL-EBI occupied its current location on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus.

When the EMBL-EBI moved to Hinxton it hosted two databases, one for nucleotide sequences (the EMBL Data Library, which was renamed EMBL-Bank and eventually became part of the European Nucleotide Archive) and one for protein sequences (Swiss-Prot–TrEMBL, now known as UniProt). Since then, the EMBL-EBI has diversified to provide data resources in all the major molecular domains and expanded to include a broad research base. It provides user support and offers advanced training in bioinformatics.[6]

Since 2013, EMBL-EBI has been listed as a data and service provider in the Registry of Research Data Repositories.[7]


As part of EMBL, the largest part of EMBL-EBI's funding comes from the governments of EMBL's 21 member states. Other major funders include the European Commission, Wellcome Trust, US National Institutes of Health, UK Research Councils, EMBL-EBI's industry partners and the UK Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills. In addition, the Wellcome Trust provides the facilities for the EMBL-EBI on its Genome Campus at Hinxton, and the UK Research Councils have provided funds for EMBL-EBI's facilities in Hinxton.[8]

Research groups

  • Protein sequence resources (Alex Bateman)
  • Evolution of Cellular Networks (Pedro Beltrao)
  • Sequence algorithms and intra-species variation (Ewan Birney)
  • Functional genomics research (Alvis Brazma)
  • Cancer Genomics (Isidro Cortes Ciriano)
  • Computational approaches to understanding microbiomes (Rob Finn)
  • Evolution of transcriptional regulation (Paul Flicek)
  • Cancer data science (Moritz Gerstung)
  • Evolutionary tools for genomic analysis (Nick Goldman)
  • Computational microbial genomics (Zamin Iqbal)
  • Protein Data Bank in Europe - Research (Gerard Kleywegt)
  • Chemistry Services (Andrew Leach)
  • Computational biology (John Marioni)
  • Whole-cell signalling (Evangelia Petsalaki)
  • Statistical genomics and systems genetics (Oliver Stegle)
  • Computational biology of proteins (structure, function and evolution) and ageing (Janet Thornton)
  • Mathematical models for bioimage analysis (Virginie Uhlmann)
  • Genome analysis research (Daniel Zerbino)


The EMBL-EBI hosts a number of publicly open, free to use life science resources, including biomedical databases, analysis tools and bio-ontologies. These include:

Other bioinformatics organisations

See also


  1. "Background | European Bioinformatics Institute". 16 May 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  2. "Jobs at EMBL-EBI". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  3. "Scientific report" (PDF). 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  4. Stoesser, G.; Sterk, P.; Tuli, M.; Stoehr, P.; Cameron, G. (1997). "The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database". Nucleic Acids Research. 25 (1): 7–14. doi:10.1093/nar/25.1.7. PMC 146376. PMID 9016493.
  5. Kneale, G.; Kennard, O. (1984). "The EMBL nucleotide sequence data library". Biochemical Society Transactions. 12 (6): 1011–1014. doi:10.1042/bst0121011. PMID 6530028.
  6. Wright, V. A.; Vaughan, B. W.; Laurent, T.; Lopez, R.; Brooksbank, C.; Schneider, M. V. (2010). "Bioinformatics training: Selecting an appropriate learning content management system--an example from the European Bioinformatics Institute". Briefings in Bioinformatics. 11 (6): 552–562. doi:10.1093/bib/bbq023. PMID 20601435.
  7. "EMBL-EBI |". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. "Page not found". Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
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