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Mathias Uhlén’s protein atlas is recognised as a global resource

The Human Protein Atlas is the first database in Sweden to be designated a Global Core Biodata Resource. According to Mathias Uhlén, this is a quality hallmark and an opportunity for additional collaborations.

The Human Protein Atlas (HPA) is a Swedish initiative launched in 2003 with the aim of mapping all the proteins in the human body. Today, more than 17,000 proteins have been mapped in the database, and it has developed into one of the world’s largest.

“Ranked by the number of visitors, The Human Protein Atlas is the second largest biological database in the world. We have about half a million visitors a month,” says Mathias Uhlén, Professor of Microbiology at KTH and initiator of the project, to Life Science Sweden.

The atlas provides information on where a specific protein is expressed in the body.

“All drugs target proteins, so the information we have in our database is the target for all future drugs. Almost 50% of the people who visit our site every day are from the pharmaceutical industry.”

The database has now been designated a Global Core Biodata Resource (GBCR) by the Global Biodata Coalition (GBC), the first of its kind in Sweden. Thus, it joins the ranks of other large biological databases such as Uniprot, Gene Ontology and Reactome that the GBC has previously selected.

GBC was founded by research funders to coordinate and share methods for the management and growth of major open biological databases. The aim of the organisation is to ensure that the databases are kept open and accessible.

According to Mathias Uhlén, being designated as a GBCR does not imply any funding; on the contrary, an already well-funded platform is one of the criteria for being selected.

“We have funding for another eight years, so it’s all about nurturing what we have created over these twenty years.”

Apart from the prestige of being designated as an essential resource for life science research, this also entails a more formalised collaboration with other databases already selected as GBCR, according to Mathias Uhlén. This may involve assisting or being assisted in integrating existing data from one database to another.

“All of us employees are delighted that we have been recognised as a core resource for the world’s life science research.”

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