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Protein Data Bank

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PDB Management by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics  (Rutgers University New Brunswick)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Protein Data Bank (PDB) archive is the single worldwide repository of information about the 3D structures of large biological molecules, including proteins and nucleic acids. These are the molecules of life that are found in all organisms including bacteria, yeast, plants, flies, other animals, and humans. Understanding the shape of a molecule helps to understand how it works. This knowledge can be used to help deduce a structure's role in human health and disease, and in drug development. The structures in the archive range from tiny proteins and bits of DNA to complex molecular machines like the ribosome.

Education & Outreach

The RCSB PDB hosts local school trips, and gives tours and demonstrations to a wide variety of visitors. This past spring, the RCSB PDB also participated in several outreach programs in our local communities.

Throughout March and the beginning of April, the San Diego Science Festival (SDSF) brought together students, families, businesses, scientists, and communities for a series of fun (and free) events that highlighted the impact of science and innovation on our lives. Through this program, more than 200,000 people interacted with the San Diego’s local scientific community through various school, evening, and outreach programs.

High School students and teachers from all over San Diego County visited the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as part of the Small Wonders program organized by the SDSF and UCSD. This April 1 event offered a day of exploration into the world of nanotechnology and advanced materials.

The RCSB PDB demonstrated the inner workings of proteins in the Calit2 Cave, an immersive environment that features a 5-walled projected virtual reality room with 68-million pixel resolution (for more information about the Cave, see

Students explored the architecture of protein structures, how RNA polymerase transcribes DNA into RNA, and how drugs such as HIV protease inhibitors work. Students and teachers alike were fascinated by both the beauty and the complexity of protein structures. This unique experience certainly sparked a keen interest in science among the students as the organizers had hoped

The finale to the entire SDSF was April 4th Expo Day in Balboa Park. More than 50,000 attendees visited over 200 different booths and watched over 25 science-related performances. The RCSB PDB’s exhibit booth offered hands-on activities, free materials, and demonstrations. In addition to building viruses and exploring proteins with the RCSB PDB, Expo visitors were able to finger paint with algae, play catch with a robot, look through telescopes at sunspots, race remote controlled cars, make test-tube lava lamps, and create musical instruments.

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