First, a definition

Life scientists and clinicians have always tried to assemble data and evidence to find the right answers to fundamental questions.Nowadays, there is no shortage of data. But a different kind of problem has emerged. New technologies are producing data at an unprecedented speed. Indeed, so much data – and of such variety – that they can no longer be interpreted by the human mind alone.

Enter bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics is the application of computer technology to the understanding and effective use of biological and biomedical data. It is the discipline that stores, analyses and interprets the Big Data generated by life-science experiments, or collected in a clinical context. This multidisciplinary field is driven by experts from a variety of backgrounds: biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and physicists.

Activities around bioinformatics

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From workshops and mobile games to classroom activities, SIB has developed a number of fun ways to discover bioinformatics and the key role it plays in the life sciences and health today. The workshops are at the disposal of teachers, students as well as the layman, and invite the participants to discover authentic scientific research practice. Here are a few of SIB’s activities and workshops:

  • In light of evolution: what do we, humans, have in common with the banana? what does the evolution of coronaviruses tell us about the pandemic? Discover stories showing some of the real-life implications of the somewhat abstract concept of evolutionary biology with the website (EN, FR), laureate of the 2021 Optimus Agora prize.
  • ChromosomeWalk: discover the world of DNA, genes, proteins, popular genetic variations and bioinformatics tools which are used to visualize genomic data (poster). Discover also the concept of ‘virtual’ portrait based on an individual’s DNA. Visit the ChromosomeWalk website; in particular "The eyes have it" (EN, FR, DE).
  • Precisionmed: discover how precision medicine draws on cutting-edge technologies to identify therapeutic strategies specifically tailored to a patient’s history and genetic data with our web site (FR, EN).
  • Genome Jumper: explore human diversity with this educational mobile game available on Google Play and App Store  (EN, FR, DE). Read more and download it here.
  • Drug Design: acquire a simple yet realistic picture of how bioinformatics is used to design a drug today. The examples given are candidate drugs for the treatment of cancer and pain. Design your own drug, perhaps even with therapeutic properties that are better than those of existing drugs! (publication 1, publication 2, publication 3, poster) Visit the DrugDesign website (EN, FR).
  • Understanding a genetic disease with the help of bioinformatics: discover a few of the major bioinformatics tools that are used to study insulin and genetic diseases. Visit the website (EN, FR) (Publication).
  • Discover bioinformatics stories related to the new coronavirus and its proteins and the importance of having data quickly and freely available. Visit the website “Coronavirus and proteins…” (EN, FR).
  • "La Pizza Métagénomique": understand how bioinformatics tools can be used to identify the different species (animal, plant, bacteria) present in a pizza, based on the DNA which is found in it. This workshop is ideal for illustrating some of the applications of current research in metagenomics (Publication). Visit the website (FR).
  • "Ateliers de Bioinformatique": a selection of additional bioinformatics activities and educational material such as ‘Phylogeny and Biodiversity’ and ‘BLAST discovery’ (FR).

Upcoming public events

Find all our activities and events on our Facebook channel.

Past outreach activities and events

Contact us

Get in touch with us to organize workshops (9-99 years) for schools or companies: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Over the years, SIB has written all sorts of material to communicate science – mainly the world of genes and proteins – to many kinds of audiences, from scientists themselves to students, adults and children. 

Electronic periodicals

psprotein spotlight

Protein Spotlight is an electronic magazine which introduces the tremendously varied world of proteins. Although the articles demand some background in the life sciences, they are addressed to each and every one and are perfectly suitable for high school students. Written in a conversational tone, Protein Spotlight regularly profiles specific proteins, or family of proteins. Selected stories are now also released as comic strips!

Latest issues :

04 February 2023

  • on a tightrope
    Too much of anything is never good. Excess alcohol, and our faculties are impaired. Excess heat, and drought spreads. Excess cold, and vineyards die. Too much, too, of what is paradoxically essential to life frequently turns out to be toxic....
  • a heated legacy
    Stress. We know what it feels like. Though we may be the only living organism to have turned it into a fertile and imaginative piece of conversation, every single living species on this planet is prone to stress and its effects. It comes in many...


tales small world

Tales From A Small World by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen
“Tales From A Small World” is a collection of articles originally published on the Protein Spotlight site, enriched with poems by the delightfully unconventional Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Each article tells the story of a given protein - of which there are hundreds of thousands - from what it does in our body, how it does it, who discovered it, to how such information can help save lives.


Books for children

journey tiny world

Journey into a tiny world by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Sylvie Déthiollaz
Journey into a tiny world is a tale of two proteins - Globin and Poietin- who set out to save a little girl's life. Read about the adventures of Globin and Poietin who will take you into the depths of Lily's body where you will discover many other proteins who will help Globin and Poietin in their endeavour. There is much fun and laughter in this story and children will discover the very small and surprising world that thrives within each one of us.
Translation from the French.
Age: 8 to 11 years.



Globine Poietine

Globine et Poïétine sur la piste de la moelle rouge by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Sylvie Déthiollaz
Globine et Poïetine sur la piste de la moelle rouge is the original French version of "Journey into a tiny world"
Note : The French and German version of the tale can be found on SimplyScience



Aqua What

Aqua What? by Sylvie Déthiollaz, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen
“Aqua What?” is the story of three water molecules that meet in a suburban gutter and decide to take some time off to go to the seaside. On their adventures they meet Aquaporin, a protein that will help them get there. The play was originally written in French and subsequently translated into English.



opus 23 cd cover

Opus 23 - Music for a Gene
Can music help us understand science? SIB, at the initiative of Lydie Lane, asked the French composer Olivier Calmel to express basic genetics concepts and human genome complexity through a musical piece for string quartet. A CD of the work interpreted by the Ramsès Quartet was recorded in 2015. The album contains a 52-page illustrated booklet with detailed explanations about the scientific concepts and the composition process in French, English and German. The full musical score is also available for purchase from the Klarthe editions.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Scientific articles and posters

  • Article: Using bioinformatics to hunt SARS-CoV-2, its variants & its origins – a practical guide. Marie-Claude Blatter, Philippe Le Mercier, Teresa K. Attwood, The GOBLET Foundation. F1000 Research 08/21. DOI:
  • Article: Introducing computer-aided drug design – a practical guide. Teresa K. Attwood, Marie-Claude Blatter, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Antione Daina, Vincent Zoete, The GOBLET Foundation. F1000Research 12/2020. DOI:
  • Article: Using Bioinformatics to Understand Genetic Diseases. Marie-Claude Blatter, Patricia Palagi, Teresa Attwood and the GOBLET foundation. F1000 Research 03/2019. DOI:
  • Article: Educational Tools to Introduce Computer-Aided Drug Design to Students and to the Public at Large, Antoine Daina, Marie-Claude Blatter, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, and Vincent Zoete. Chimia (Aarau), 2018, 72 (1), 55-61.
  • Article: Drug Design Workshop: A Web-Based Educational Tool To Introduce Computer-Aided Drug Design to the General Public. Antoine Daina, Marie-Claude Blatter, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Patricia M. Palagi, Diana Marek, Ioannis Xenarios, Torsten Schwede, Olivier Michielin, and Vincent Zoete. J. Chem. Educ. 02/2017; 94 (3). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00596.
  • Article: The Metagenomic Pizza: a simple recipe to introduce bioinformatics to the layman. Marie-Claude Blatter, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Patricia M. Palagi, Lydie Bougueleret, Ioannis Xenarios. EMBnet.journal. 04/2016. DOI:
  • Conference poster: ChromosomeWalk, a virtual exhibition introducing the human genome and bioinformatics (ISMB 2013)
    Marie-Claude Blatter, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Patricia Palagi, Lydie Bougueleret, Frédérique Lisacek, Marc Robinson-Rechavi, Ioannis Xenarios.
  • Conference poster: Drug design for high school students, high school teachers and the public at large (Basel Computational Biology Conference 2015). Marie-Claude Blatter, Antoine Daina, Vincent Zoete, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, Diana Marek, Patricia Palagi, Loannis Xenarios, Torsten Schwede, Olivier Michielin.