The history of SIB is a Swiss success story at the frontier of biology and computer science.

The development of bioinformatics in Switzerland began well before the founding of the Institute in 1998. The Melanie software package created in 1983, the SWISS-PROT database established in 1986 and the PROSITE database launched in 1988 were auspicious forerunners of what was to come. SIB, since its inception, has rapidly grown from a start-up into an impressive organization widely recognized as one of the leading data science organizations in the world.

When the Institute was founded in 1998, bioinformatics was still in its infancy – both in Switzerland and abroad. The SIB founders were pioneers – shaping an organization of exceptional quality. SIB’s founding was also made possible thanks to the visionary support of dedicated Swiss politicians.

As bioinformatics resources become increasingly essential in life sciences research, SIB will continue to lead developments in the field, e.g. with the initiative on personalized health which will fundamentally change medicine as we know it today.


SIB milestones:

  • 2015: SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics was designated an FAO Reference Centre.
  • 2014: SIB and its director Ron Appel were honoured with the BioAlps Award.
    Christine Durinx joined SIB as Associate Director.
  • 2013: SIB celebrated its 15th anniversary.
    The SIB Vital-IT Group developed the algorithm behind the Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnostic (NIPT), a comprehensive and accurate non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test. The test is harmless for the fetus since it is performed with a blood sample from the expectant mother. This test provides fast and safe results and revolutionized prenatal testing.
    Eight new groups joined SIB.
  • 2012: SIB was officially recognized by the Commission for Technology and Innovation KTI/CTI as a research institution.
    UniProtKB celebrated its 10th anniversary.
    Ron Appel was re-elected by the Board of Directors and started a second 5-year term as Executive Director.
  • 2011: SIB launched the new generation of ExPASy.
    Switzerland signed the Memorandum of Understanding to catalyse the implementation and construction of ELIXIR (the European Life-sciences Infrastructure for Biological Information), the pan-European initiative to operate a sustainable infrastructure for managing and safeguarding biological information in Europe.
  • 2010: SIB passed the 400-member mark.
    SIB and NBIC (Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their collaboration.
  • 2009: The EpiFlu database, developed by SIB, was chosen to be used as the exchange platform for A(H1N1) influenza research.
    Amos Bairoch created the CALIPHO Group at the University of Geneva, whose main project is to develop an innovative knowledge resource centred on human proteins, currently called neXtProt.
  • 2008: SIB celebrated its 10th anniversary.
    Swiss-Prot released the first version of the fully curated complete human proteome.
    The University of Bern joined SIB as an institutional member.
  • 2007: Ron Appel was appointed Executive Director of SIB.
    There were 108 connections to the ExPASy server.
    The University of Zurich became an institutional member of SIB.
  • 2005: The number of entries in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot reached 200,000.
    ETH Zurich became an institutional member of SIB.
  • 2003: Launch of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, the world’s most comprehensive catalogue of information on proteins, by the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), SIB, and the Georgetown University Medical Center’s Protein Information Resource (PIR).
    Creation of the Vital-IT Core Facility, a high-performance computing centre that provides life scientists with access to high-performance hardware and software consulting services.
  • 2002: EPFL joined SIB as an institutional member.
  • 2001: Ernest Feytmans was appointed General Manager of SIB.
    The Biozentrum at the University of Basel joined SIB.
    Co-development and maintenance of the SWISS-MODEL resource by both the Protein Structure Bioinformatics Group of SIB and the Biozentrum at the University of Basel.
  • 1998: Creation of SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Five research groups of the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Institut Suisse de Recherche Expérimentale sur le Cancer (ISREC) and Glaxo Wellcome Experimental Research were united in one organization.
  • 1993: Creation of the SIB web portal ExPASy, the first web server for life sciences in the world.
    Launch of the SWISS-MODEL project, a fully automated protein structure homology-modelling server, accessible via ExPASy.
    Launch of SWISS-2DPAGE, a database of annotated 2D-PAGE and SDS-PAGE images.
  • 1988: Launch of PROSITE, a database of protein families and domains.
  • 1986: Amos Bairoch created Swiss-Prot, currently the manually curated section of the UniProt Knowledgebase.
  • 1983: Creation of Melanie, a two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) analysis platform. This is one of the most used software packages for analysing complex 2D-PAGE gel samples.