Helmholtz Network for Bioinformatics

Please note: HNB has finally been discontinued!


Although HNB funding ran out in 2005 already, the consortium managed to keep the HNB portal running for another two years. However, due to increasing maintenance costs, the portal had to be permanently shut down in the course of a general server consolidation.


We thank all our users for their interest in HNB and hope that your work did benefit from the offered ressources!



The Helmholtz Network for Bioinformatics is a joint venture of 12 German bioinformatics research groups and offers convenient access to numerous bioinformatics resources through a single web portal. Thus it covers severel shortcommings of the actual Bioinformatic Community.

Our novel user interface focusses on problem and task oriented approaches, in an effort to overcome the common disadvantages of typical tool oriented web interfaces.

In the problem oriented approach the user is guided by a detailed, tree-like questionnaire ('Guided Tool Finder') towards tools suitable for solving specific problems. This approach does not require any previous knowledge of the available tools and allows our users to concentrate entirely on describing their problems. Furthermore, many HNB tools have been pre-configured with problem-specific optimal parameters to prevent novices from being confused by too many adjustable program parameters.

The task oriented approach is meant for solving more advanced biological problems that often require the interplay of more than one tool. Mechanisms have been developed that allow for the integration of programs and databases into automated program cascades (or 'tasks'). With this approach, no further user interaction (i.e. for data reformatting or transfer) is required once a task has been launched.

The user's input and output data are registered in a central 'virtual user space' and stored on one of the HNB servers for a defined period of time, allowing users to easily access their own data again for re-evaluation and re-use.

The HNB-Webservice has been terminated in june 2007!

Resources offered

A broad variety of programs and databases for nucleic acid and protein analysis are offered within the HNB framework, including standard bioinformatics applications like the popular HUSAR package [Senger, 1998] and SRS [Etzold, 1996] as well as more specific applications.

The three main areas the HNB focuses on are: genome analysis, protein analysis and enzymes and metabolism.

The main focus of the HNB Genome Analysis subsection is on prediction and analysis of regulatory regions in eukaryotic genomic sequences.

The focus of the HNB Protein Analysis subsection is on the prediction of protein features, taking into account the close relationship between protein structure prediction, protein family analysis and protein function prediction.

The HNB Enzymes and Metabolism subsection provides entry to the BRENDA enzyme database, a comprehensive relational database on functional and molecular information of all enzymes which are classified by the EC system of the IUBMB (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). The structure of the database allows to search for metabolic, kinetic, structural, medical data. The entries are linked to other major databases for proteins, genes and metabolic diseases. All information in BRENDA is referenced and linked to PubMed.

Institutes involved in the project

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; 01SF9988/4)