Bioinformatics NCBI databases support service at the Biomed Library

Bioinformatics is a booming interdisciplinary field which Penn Libraries is now supporting. Bioinformatics is the intersection of fields of Computer Science, Statistics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics which aid in the  creation of databases, analyses, and elucidation of biological data such as DNA, RNA, protein sequences, and various types of interactions and pathways. Here at the Biomedical Library we support bioinformatics needs across the Penn campus with a focus on the suite of the  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases for those new to the field or with clinical questions that may be answered using this burgeoning field’s tools and methods.

NCBI “advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.” This national center provides access to dozens of data repositories, tools and reference materials, with Pubmed being the most heavily used. While many in the Penn community think of Penn Libraries when wanting to learn more about Pubmed, we also now provide assistance with those NCBI resources more closely related to bioinformatics, for example:

  • Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) – Tool to find regions of similarity between nucleotide or protein sequences.
  • Gene – Portal serving data centered around a specific gene.
  • ClinVar – archive of reports of the relationships among human variations and phenotypes, with supporting evidence
  • MedGen – portal to information about human disorders and other phenotypes having a genetic component.
  • Cn3D – 3D viewer that displays structure, sequence, and alignment, and also includes annotation and alignment editing features.


Our staff provides one-on-one consultations and workshops on request on the  resources mentioned above and others listed here. To get you started and pique your interest, we have a workshop entitled “A Tour of the NCBI website” – RSVP here for the next session on March 5th at noon – that introduces attendants to the resources in the site, as well as giving tips & tricks on site navigation and finding information across NCBI databases. In addition, we have a website detailing our services and resources at the library and beyond.

For questions or training requests, please contact Subin George at, or Manuel de la Cruz Gutiérrez at 215 746 2459/

Categories: Events, News, Services

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