Tools for Education


The RCSB PDB offers resources for teachers  and students; many are described in the recently-published  "Promoting a structural view of biology for varied audiences: an overview of RCSB PDB resources and experiences" (J. Appl. Cryst. (2010). 43   doi:10.1107/S002188981002371X).

 Accessible from the left hand menu, the RCSB PDB's Education section offers:

  • Understanding PDB Data: Through text, images, and interactive Jmols, this feature intends to help researchers and educators get the most out of the PDB archive. Broad topics include how to understand PDB data, how to visualize structures, how to read coordinate files, and potential challenges in exploring the archive.
  • Educational Resources: This page archives many of the educational materials created by the RCSB PDB, including animations, handouts, and more.  Recent additions include an updated edition of  the Bioinformatics of Green Fluorescent Protein tutorial guide (PDF) and the How Do Drugs Work poster (PDF) and flyer (PDF).
  • RCSB PDB Newsletters and Education Corner:  Published quarterly, the newsletter describes new developments, outreach efforts, and interviews with leaders in the community.  The newsletter's Education Corner, which highlights how the PDB is used in different facets of education, are also archived on a single page.  Past Education Corners have featured a rubric for biomacromolecular 3D literacy, the program Molecules for the iPhone, and physical 3D models of molecules.
  • Molecule of the Month: Each Molecule of the Month installment includes an introduction to the structure and function of a particular molecule, a discussion of the relevance of the molecule to human health and welfare, suggested additional readings and resources, and interactive views.

For an introduction to the features and functionality of the RCSB PDB website, comprehensive training materials are available at The training tools include

  • An online narrated tutorial that demonstrates basic and advanced searching, report generation, exploring individual structures, and many other research and education tools.
  • The animated PowerPoint slides from the tutorial
  • Slide handouts and exercises
  • Quick Reference Cards that highlight search strategies, features and functionality. The cards can be ordered at at no cost; shipping is free within the United States.

Short, online narrated videos describe how to use ligand searching and website customization tools.  The screencasts currently offered at the RCSB PDB site demonstrate:

  • Ligand searching: Using the MarvinSketch applet
  • Ligand searching: Advanced MarvinSketch features
  • Ligand searching: Using SMARTS features
  • Ligand searching: Loading a PDB chemical component
  • Customizing Structure Summary pages using Widgets
  • Tour of the left hand menu

Other educational resources are described in a downloadable flyer (PDF).

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