Dr. Rolf Apweiler


Innovative bioinformatics partnerships by EMBL-EBI: The AlphaFold, OpenTargets, and COVID19 Data Platform examples.

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) maintains the world’s most comprehensive range of freely available and up-to-date molecular data resources. Developed in collaboration with our colleagues worldwide, our services promote to share data, perform complex queries and analyse the results in different ways.
In my presentation I like to highlight some recent examples of innovative EMBL-EBI partnerships:

  • Open Targets is an innovative, large-scale, multi-year, public-private partnership that uses human genetics and genomics data for systematic drug target identification and prioritisation.
  • The European COVID-19 Data Platform facilitates data sharing and analysis in order to accelerate coronavirus research, which is essential to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Commission and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), together with EU Member States and research partners such as ELIXIR, operate a dedicated European COVID-19 Data Platform that enables the rapid collection and comprehensive data sharing of available research data from different sources for the European and global research communities.
  • AlphaFold, a state-of-the-art AI system developed by DeepMind, is able to computationally predict protein structures with unprecedented accuracy and speed. These predictions are being made freely and openly available to the global scientific community in partnership with EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), opening up new and exciting research avenues to dramatically deepen our understanding of human health, disease and our environment, with implications for areas like drug design and sustainability.


Rolf Apweiler is Director of EMBL-EBI. Prior to this position he was Associate Director, after many years of leading protein resources such as UniProt and InterPro. Rolf has made a major contribution to methods for the automatic annotation of proteins, making it possible to add relevant information to proteome sets for entire organisms. He has spearheaded the development of standards for proteomics data, and his teams have maintained major collections of protein identifications from proteomics experiments (PRIDE) and molecular interactions (IntAct). He also led EMBL-EBI’s contribution to the Gene Ontology, was Director of Open Targets, and is now leading the efforts of EMBL-EBI around the European COVID-19 Data Platform.

Rolf received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 1994, and has been at EMBL since 1987. His major contribution to the field of proteomics was recognised by the the Human Proteomics Organisation’s “Distinguished Achievement Award in Proteomics” in 2004 and his election to President of the Human Proteomics Organisation, which he held in 2007 and 2008. In 2012, he was elected as a member of EMBO, in 2015 he was elected to an ISCB (International Society for Computational Biology) fellow, and in 2022 he was elected to a Member of the Academia Europaea. Rolf also served over many years on a multitude of Editorial Boards and Scientific Advisory Boards.