Are you looking for an expertly annotated database of chemical reactions? A protein-interaction tool to explore the host-side of COVID-19? Exploring the 160 databases and software tools developed by SIB Groups has never been this easy. Created in 1993, Expasy, the SIB bioinformatics resource portal, is now available as a new release, after a major overhaul. It includes tools that support a wide range of life science and clinical research domains. Add Expasy to your bookmarks to ensure you keep your favorite bioinformatics tools at your fingertips, and keep reading to find out more about its features.

“Whether you are a PhD Student looking for the ideal tool to analyse your transcriptomics data, or teaching undergraduates about bioinformatics: Expasy is the gateway to finding answers.” Christine Durinx, SIB Executive Director.

Expasy’s key features in a nutshell

● A discovery tool connecting over 160 Swiss-made bioinformatics databases and software, among which leading resources of particular importance to the life science community (see box), supporting your research in: genomics, proteomics, structural biology, evolution, systems biology and text mining. Contextual information will enable you to:

○ Assess what you can do with this resource: know which typical operations are associated with a specific resource (e.g. enrichment analysis, molecular modelling)
○ Find related resources that may also be useful to answer your research question.

● A user-friendly search/filter engine enabling you to seamlessly retrieve, for instance, hits for specific terms (i.e. MSH6 gene) from a subset of resources, and information from the global set of resources around a specific topic (e.g. carbohydrates)
● A completely redesigned interface

Some history

Expasy was created in August 1993 - the dawn of the internet era. At that time, it was referred to as 'ExPASy, the Expert Protein Analysis System' as proteins were its primary focus. It was the first life science website - and among the 150 very first websites in the world!

In June 2011, it became the SIB ExPASy Bioinformatics Resources Portal: a diverse catalogue of bioinformatics resources developed by SIB Groups.

The current version of Expasy was released following a large user study and taking into account design, user experience and architecture aspects.

The Institute and its resources

SIB plays a fundamental role in supporting bioinformatics resources in their transformation from a research project to a mature and sustainable infrastructure.

Over 160 databases and software tools developed by SIB’s 80 Groups and hosted on Expasy, range from software to analyse deep-sequencing data to databases of biological knowledge on viruses, including Sars-CoV-2.

Among them, several key resources are identified following a stringent evaluation by an external Scientific Advisory Board as of crucial importance for the global life science community. These ‘SIB Resources’ thus benefit from the Institute's extended and specific support on a range of levels, including User Experience studies and design, hosting, best practices & knowledge sharing, security audit, user training, licensing and legal advice, mentoring, and funding. Among them, UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot and STRING have been identified as ELIXIR Core Data Resources, a recognition of their importance for the scientific community at the European level.