Who bears the burden of long-lived molecular biology databases?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the early 1990s the life sciences quickly adopted online databases to facilitate wide-spread dissemination and use of scientific data. Starting in 1991, the journal Nucleic Acids Research published an annual Database Issue dedicated to articles describing molecular biology databases. Analysis of these articles reveals a set of long-lived databases which have remained available for more than 15 years. Given the pervasive challenge of sustaining community resources, these databases provide an opportunity to examine what factors contribute to persistence by addressing two questions 1) which organizations fund these long-lived databases? and 2) which organizations maintain these long-lived databases? Funding and operating organizations for 67 databases were determined through review of Database Issue articles. The results reveal a diverse set of contributing organizations with financial and operational support spread across six categories: academic, consortium/collective, government, industry, philanthropic, and society/association. The majority of databases reported support from more than one funding organization, of which government organizations were most common source of funds. Operational responsibilities were more distributed, with academic organizations serving as the most common hosts. Although there is evidence of diversification overall, the most acknowledged funding and operating organizations contribute to disproportionately large percentages of the long-lived databases investigated here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalData Science Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 4 2020


  • Data sharing
  • Molecular biology
  • Online databases
  • Research infrastructure
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'Who bears the burden of long-lived molecular biology databases?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this