Free access to world-class biological databases for European science thanks to FELICS

Today the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's (EMBL) European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics (SIB), the University of Cologne, Germany, and the European Patent Office launch FELICS (Free European Life-science Information and Computational Services). The new project coordinated by the EBI will give researchers unrestricted access to some of the world's most important biological databases. The Commission of the European Union has awarded 16.7 million Euro under the Research Infrastructures action of the sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for the project to develop, enhance and interlink many of the most important data resources in Europe and widen their accessibility to the scientific community worldwide. This is the largest ever European award for computational infrastructures needed to support biological research.

The EBI is Europe's largest curator and disseminator of biological information, and has played a leading role in ensuring that information from genomes, for example, is provided to scientists and the public. Its predecessor, the EMBL Data Library, launched the world's first universal public database of DNA sequences in the early 1980s. FELICS encompasses many of the EBI's familiar databases, but will also feature some crucial new activities. Support for BRENDA, the University of Cologne's enzyme database, will release it from its current licensing constraints and provide unrestricted access to its data. FELICS will also offer specific support for the extraction of information from patent literature in collaboration with the European Patent Office, who will also collaborate closely on CheBI, a database of chemical entities of biological interest, which will receive a substantial boost as part of the project.

"Bioinformatics now pervades biology," says Graham Cameron, Associate Director of the EBI and coordinator of FELICS. "Bioinformatics experts no longer sit between biologist and database. Research

Contact: Anna-Lynn Wegener
European Molecular Biology Laboratory

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