Date: June 2, 2010

100 2rh1 252With origins in a handwritten petition circulated at a scientific meeting, the Protein Data Bank is the single worldwide repository for the 3D structures of large molecules and nucleic acids.

Under the direction of Rutgers Board of Governors Professor Helen Berman, this free, online library allows biological researchers and students to study, store, and share molecular information on a global scale.

Founded in 1971 with seven structures at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the archive is managed by a consortium called the worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB). The RCSB (Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics) PDB, based in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is responsible for releasing PDB entries into the archive after they have been reviewed and annotated.

At Rutgers, RCSB PDB members annotate structures and develop the sophisticated infrastructure needed to handle these complex data. The primary FTP site is based at UCSD, which serves as the distribution center.

Today, the PDB holds more than 65,000 structures, and is growing daily. The archive receives approximately 25 new structures from scientists each day––and more than 20 million files are downloaded every month. Users include structural biologists, computational biologists, biochemists, and molecular biologists in academia, government and industry as well as educators and students.

Notable examples include structures of the adrenergic receptor, which will revolutionize the discovery of drugs to fight heart disease, allergies and numerous other diseases, and the structures of many enzymes from HIV, which have been pivotal in the design of new therapies to fight AIDS.

The RCSB PDB presents a comprehensive website and database that lets users search, analyze, and visualize the structures of biological macromolecules and their relationships to sequence, function and disease. Its RCSB PDB Molecule of the Month series regularly introduces readers to the structure and function of the molecule, discusses its relevance to human health and disease, provides interactive views of the molecule, and suggests resources for further exploration.

The RCSB PDB resource is supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Office of Science, the Department of Energy, the National Library of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases.

To learn more about the history of the PDB, see The Protein Data Bank: a historical perspective (2008) Acta Cryst. A64: 88-95.

For more information, see


Image of an adrenergic receptor from the RCSB PDB's Molecule of the Month. 100 2rh1 252
Hemoglobin, one of the earliest structures deposited in the archive. 4hhb bio r 250


See the "The Stuff of Life" article on the main Rutgers site which includes a video entitled "Visit the Protein Data Bank". (updated 7/26/2011)