Over the past 25 years, the biomedical sciences have seen an unparalleled explosion in the amount of research data generated. The mission of understanding complex systems at discrete levels of analysis, be they protein structure or gene expression, and the devising of complex tools to carry out such studies have inevitably led to massive amounts of data and the need to process the data. Large-scale undertakings in certain biomedical avenues, such as the mapping of the human genome, have meant that large data sets would be generated by multiple research teams. Often these teams would be working across disciplines and across international borders, each team dealing with an aspect of the greater research project. In such contexts, the need to rapidly code and index data, share the data in a common database, and devise flexible cross-referencing and retrieval systems would be vital to the success of the undertaking.