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News Release 96-030

NSF Funds International Protein Data Bank

Fuels research in biotechnology

June 3, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Spearheaded by the National Science Foundation, four government organizations have jointly awarded funds to the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, for its Protein Data Bank (PDB) for the next four years. The PDB has become a major resource for research in a wide variety of biology fields, including industrial research in biotechnology and basic university research in structural biology.

"The PDB is a unique international clearinghouse for structural information about proteins and nucleic acids," says Mary Clutter, NSF assistant director for biological sciences. "Scientists from around the world contribute to the PDB and use it on a daily basis. The scientific community depends on convenient access to this information as an invaluable aid to its research."

An ongoing revolution in experimental techniques has led to a dramatic increase in the size of the PDB in recent years. The database has grown from about 300 structures in 1989 to 5,000 in 1996. At the current rate, the number of entries will double in less than two years.

Attesting to the international importance of this crucial data base are the 11 countries in addition to the United States that serve as secondary distributors (China, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom). Some, like Japan, have more than one secondary distributor as does the U.S. For example, the San Diego Supercomputer Center and National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine both provide secondary distribution of this database.

The PDB, which originated at Brookhaven, has been supported for 25 years by renewable NSF grants. Several federal agencies--NSF, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Library of Medicine--are cooperatively supporting the PDB.

Note: Information contained in the PDB is available on the World Wide Web at:


Media Contacts
Cheryl L. Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Gerald B. Selzer, NSF, (703) 292-8470, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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