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How to Use NCBI Database

The NCBI database comprises multiple databases offering information on and analyses of molecular and genetic processes controlling health and disease. New database users will need an overview to navigate this wealth of information.


  • Step 1: Go to the NCBI website Go to the National Center for Biotechnology Information website to find out what NCBI is. The NCBI databases are a division of the National Library of Medicine -- part of the U.S. Government’s National Institutes of Health.
  • Step 2: Go to the Entrez tutorial Go to the Entrez tutorial. Entrez is NCBI’s cross-database search tool. The tutorial offers an overview of doing a global search of NCBI’s multiple databases.
  • Step 3: Go to the Entrez search system Go to the Entrez search system website to search major databases, including PubMed, Protein and Nucleotide Sequences, Protein Structures, and Complete Genomes.
  • TIP: Choose to search one particular database via the Entrez search pull-down menu.
  • Step 4: Enter a term in Entrez’s search slot Enter a term, such as "bacteria" into the search slot, and click the Go button to do a text-based search of all NCBI databases. Explore the search results.
  • Step 5: Focus your Entrez search Focus your search. For example, use Entrez’s Nucleotide database: Click the Limits tab; select a specific search field, such as "Author," "Journal," or "Protein Name," or select a molecule type or gene location. Then click Go.
  • TIP: Use the Preview/Index option in the Nucleotide database to view a selection of keywords commonly used in searches.
  • Step 6: Explore articles in the search results Explore articles in the search results. Read an article by clicking on its link. Article details can include authors, definitions, and sequence numbers.
  • TIP: To save and retrieve all your prior search results, register for an account in My NCBI.
  • Step 7: Analyze the database info using BLAST Analyze the database information using BLAST, another NCBI search tool. BLAST compares similarities between gene sequences and helps identify gene family members.
  • FACT: Humans share over 95 percent of their genetic makeup with chimpanzees, making them our closest living relatives.

You Will Need

  • Internet access

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