The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), with additional support from the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, has established a new genome helpdesk,, at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). The EBI is the primary provider of public genome-sequence data within Europe. The US National Institutes of Health has expressed its strong support for the EBI helpdesk, which will complement the existing service,, at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Together, these initiatives will ensure that the vast potential of the publicly funded genome-sequence databases is fully exploited and freely available for all to use.

The NCBI helpdesk answers more than 300 queries each day from scientists and is an invaluable guide for navigation of the publicly available genome databases. Together with the new EBI site, users will have easy access to an unsurpassed collection of genome sequences and tools for their interpretation. Both helpdesks are staffed by expert teams and rapidly answer queries by e-mail as a public service, available without restriction. It adds to a range of resources provided freely by the EBI and NCBI for commercial and academic scientists to maximize the potential of the public genome databases. These resources are continuously being refined and improved as new genome data are added.