To track the newly available genome-sequence information, several databases have been established around the world. The United States started the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in association with the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine. The NCBI GenBank database collects information on genome sequences, individual gene sequences, and protein sequences. Having all this information at hand has assisted in the study of an organism's entire set (sequence) of DNA and how its genes interact, an area of research called genomics.
The Human Genome Project (an international research effort to map all of a human's genes) paved the way toward matching certain genes with certain human traits. There is much public interest in personal genome sequencing for the purpose of identifying an individual's risk of developing gene-related illnesses. Services are already available to scan for the presence of specific genes known to be associated with an increased risk of certain diseases. However, these tests and their predictions are still under development, and they are not entirely reliable. One reason is that a genome sequence alone is not particularly useful. It is like a dictionary with a list of proteins but no definitions saying how those proteins work in living things. The next step after genome sequencing is gene annotation, which is the process of determining the function of a gene and its associated protein. The GenBank database also keeps track of new information regarding gene and protein functions. As the knowledge of gene functions improves, so will the ability to predict a person's likelihood of developing genetic illnesses. This information can be used to diagnose illnesses as well as to genetically customize medical treatments.