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Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards in chemistry: The Blue Obelisk five years on

Noel M O'Boyle1*, Rajarshi Guha2, Egon L Willighagen3, Samuel E Adams4, Jonathan Alvarsson5, Jean-Claude Bradley6, Igor V Filippov7, Robert M Hanson8, Marcus D Hanwell9, Geoffrey R Hutchison10, Craig A James11, Nina Jeliazkova12, Andrew SID Lang13, Karol M Langner14, David C Lonie15, Daniel M Lowe4, Jérôme Pansanel16, Dmitry Pavlov17, Ola Spjuth5, Christoph Steinbeck18, Adam L Tenderholt19, Kevin J Theisen20 and Peter Murray-Rust4

Author Affiliations

1 Analytical and Biological Chemistry Research Facility, Cavanagh Pharmacy Building, University College Cork, College Road, Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland

2 NIH Center for Translational Therapeutics, 9800 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20878, USA

3 Division of Molecular Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nobels väg 13, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

4 Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, CB2 1EW, UK

5 Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Box 591, 751 24 Uppsala, Sweden

6 Department of Chemistry, Drexel University, 32nd and Chestnut streets, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

7 Chemical Biology Laboratory, Basic Research Program, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., NCI-Frederick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA

8 St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MN 55057, USA

9 Kitware, Inc., 28 Corporate Drive, Clifton Park, NY 12065, USA

10 Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 219 Parkman Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA

11 eMolecules Inc., 380 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach, California 92075, USA

12 Ideaconsult Ltd., 4.A.Kanchev str., Sofia 1000, Bulgaria

13 Department of Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics, Oral Roberts University, 7777 S. Lewis Ave. Tulsa, OK 74171, USA

14 Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Einsteinweg 55, 2333 CC Leiden, The Netherlands

15 Department of Chemistry, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260-3000, USA

16 Université de Strasbourg, IPHC, CNRS, UMR7178, 23 rue du Loess 67037, Strasbourg, France

17 GGA Software Services LLC, 41 Nab. Chernoi rechki 194342, Saint Petersburg, Russia

18 Cheminformatics and Metabolism Team, European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

19 Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

20 iChemLabs, 200 Centennial Ave., Suite 200, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

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Journal of Cheminformatics 2011, 3:37  doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-37

Published: 14 October 2011



The Blue Obelisk movement was established in 2005 as a response to the lack of Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source (ODOSOS) in chemistry. It aims to make it easier to carry out chemistry research by promoting interoperability between chemistry software, encouraging cooperation between Open Source developers, and developing community resources and Open Standards.


This contribution looks back on the work carried out by the Blue Obelisk in the past 5 years and surveys progress and remaining challenges in the areas of Open Data, Open Standards, and Open Source in chemistry.


We show that the Blue Obelisk has been very successful in bringing together researchers and developers with common interests in ODOSOS, leading to development of many useful resources freely available to the chemistry community.

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