Since being founded in March 1998, SIB has now grown into a major organization with far-reaching impact that can be relied on for professional services. For over 25 years, the institute has seen many achievements such as the launch of the [BC]2 conference, the development of a non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test and a notable contribution to the COVID-19 response in Switzerland.


Birth of Swiss-Prot 

Amos Bairoch, then a PhD student at the University of Geneva, creates what has since become the world reference resource for protein knowledge, UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot. At that time, the various versions are distributed on magnetic tapes!

swissprot logo


Creation of the first life science web portal

To exchange information within the community, Ron Appel launches the first life science server, Expasy, which counts among the 150 first websites in the world. It is accessed 7,295 times even during its first month of existence, and over 2 million times per month a few years later.


 A funding crisis leading to SIB's creation in 1998

The Swiss-Prot knowledgebase, which by then has around 100,000 users, is threatened with extinction due to a lack of financial support. Thousands of support messages from the international scientific community flow in. As a result, the Swiss authorities recommend that a stable long-term funding mechanism be sought to ensure the survival of Swiss-Prot and bioinformatics, in the form of a publicly funded foundation.


Creation of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics

A team of visionary Swiss scientists (Ron Appel, Amos Bairoch, Philipp Bucher, Victor Jongeneel and Manuel Peitsch) unite to create one sole bioinformatics organization. It includes five founding groups from the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Institut Suisse de Recherche Expérimentale sur le Cancer (ISREC) and Glaxo Wellcome Experimental Research.

More in the SIB Profile 2018


Launch of Protein Spotlight

The online popular science magazine, launched by SIB’s Swiss-Prot Group and written by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, science writer, tells the tale of one protein each month.


Creation of the UniProt consortium

SIB, the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Georgetown University’s Protein Information Resource (PIR) unite to jointly maintain and develop the most widely used protein information resource in the world, which includes the Swiss-Prot database.


Creation of the first bioinformatics core facility

Launch of the high-performance computing centre Vital-IT by SIB, the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne as well as EPFL, in cooperation with Hewlett-Packard, Intel Corporation and Oracle.


First [BC]2 conference 'Life sciences meet IT'

SIB, the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and the Friedrich Miescher Institute launch the first Basel Computational Biology conference, to foster collaborations between academic, biomedical and pharmaceutical research institutes and to share knowledge, resources and services in the field of computational biology and bioinformatics.


SIB's 10th anniversary

To mark the occasion, SIB produced a film tracing 10 years of Swiss bioinformatics, presenting the institute as well as the latest advances of its service and research groups.


Creation of the Clinical Bioinformatics Group

The group aims at providing health professionals with expertise and support for the organization, analysis and interpretation of patient molecular data, so that they may be used for diagnostic purpose.


A non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test

Vital-IT develops the algorithms behind a test that allows the detection of chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus from the mother’s blood - the test is the first of its kind in Europe.

More in the SIB Profile 2018


ChromosomeWalk, the website

A virtual, award-winning online exhibition introducing the human genome and bioinformatics to the public.

a chromosome animation from the website


Creation of the SIB Training Group

The group integrates and harmonizes existing initiatives, and provides a more comprehensive and complete training portfolio. From this moment on, over 50 courses are organized per year.


Launch of a cancer diagnostic platform

The Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and SIB develop Oncobench®, a sample-to-report tool used by HUG for faster routine cancer diagnosis.


Launch of the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) initiative

SIB plays a pivotal role as Data Coordination Centre (DCC) and as the provider of a secure infrastructure for biomedical research in Switzerland (BioMedIT).


20 years of SIB

A year of festivities and projects supported by many sponsors to celebrate 20 years of commitment to life sciences and health.

More in the SIB Profile 2018


sib 20 years animations


SIB joining efforts to fight COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic required quick action from all major players around the world, including SIB. Our members were involved in this, by joining efforts to find molecules active against SARS-CoV-2. SIB infrastructure enabled the open sharing of its genomic data through the Swiss Pathogen Surveillance Platform (SPSP). Various open software and tools developed by SIB Members also supported research to fight this and future pandemics.


The SwissBioData ecosystem is proposed 

To boost data-driven discoveries in life sciences, this initiative is proposed initially by SIB with 13 Swiss institutions. This vision to enable open research data now brings together 53 units across 18 partners and was awarded the top score in its scientific evaluation. An academic venture of unparalleled scale in Switzerland.


A new leadership 

This year saw SIB say farewell to its joint Executive Directors Ron Appel and Christine Durinx, and Christophe Dessimoz appointed as Executive Director.


Three SIB Resources recognized worldwide as critical for life sciences 

The first set of Global Core Biodata Resources (GBCRS) are selected with 3 open software and tools developed at SIB being included in this list; Rhea, UniProt and STRING.


25 years of data scientists for life

In 2023, SIB marks 25 years since its launch. Now a major nationwide organization, it can be relied upon for professional services and has had a far-reaching societal impact in the field worldwide. 

Find out more on this progress and growth in the SIB Profile 2023


Environmental Bioinformatics is launched

With the worldwide loss of biodiversity becoming an ever-pressing topic, an Environmental Bioinformatics group is launched at the SIB Hub under the direction of Robert Waterhouse.