(Bethesda, MD)- The National Library of Medicine, one of the National Institutes of Health,announced the achievement of a major milestone in molecular biology and the Human GenomeProject: the addition of the one billionth base to the NIH's GenBank DNA sequence database.This achievement reflects the explosive progress of molecular biology in understanding the geneticblueprint and paving the way for exciting breakthroughs for science and medicine in the 21stcentury.
Said Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the National Library of Medicine: "The future timeof fully understanding human genetics is fast approaching. This work is greatly speeded by suchcontributions from around the world-and by the study of genetic observations from plants,microorganisms, and animals. Congratulations to all who have shared these priceless geneticdiscoveries."
DNA is the molecular "book of life," containing all the instructions necessary to build a livingorganism, whether an AIDS virus, a rice plant or a human being. These instructions take the formof a long, twisted, ladder-like DNA molecule that forms one or more chromosomes. Fourmolecular subunits, called bases and represented by the letters A, T, G and C, are arranged inmatched pairs that form the rungs of this molecular ladder. It is the sequence of these four lettersalong the length of the DNA molecule that determines all of our inherited biological characteristics.
The GenBank database now contains nearly 10 percent of the human genome, as well as genesequences from more than 25,000 other species. GenBank is accessed by some 40,000researchers every day at the Web site http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/. GenBank is built andsupported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the NationalLibrary of Medicine.
"As GenBank grows and becomes ever more comprehensive," said David J. Lipman, M.D., theCenter's director, "its value to the research community grows as well. And this deeperunderstanding of biology will lead to new opportunities in biotechnology and breakthroughs inhealth care."
NCBI is also responsible for two other biomedical information systems recently in the news:PubMed and the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project (CGAP). PubMed, which provides freeWeb-based access to the NLM's MEDLINE database of medical literature, was demonstrated byVice President Gore at a press conference June 26th. CGAP, a database of scientific informationabout cancer genes, was launched by the Vice President and the Director of the National CancerInstitute, Dr. Richard Klausner, at an August 1st press event.
More information about NCBI and GenBank is available through the Web site, via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 301- 496-2475.
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