U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Hembase is a red blood cell gene transcription database originally developed in 2003. It provides worldwide access to genetic-based studies performed by scientists in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Section, Genetics of Development and Disease Branch.

Search Hembase

Red blood cells have the fundamental role of delivering oxygen from the lungs to the other body tissues, and diseases associated with erythroid cells affect millions of people. We hope this data will be useful for the understanding and improved treatment or prevention of those diseases including all forms of anemia, erythroleukemia, and malaria.

Hembase Focus: Red Blood Cells

The production of red blood cells occurs by a process called erythropoiesis whereby erythroid progenitor cells, which arise from hematopoietic stem cells, proliferate and differentiate into erythroid precursor cells (see image below). Normally, this process is highly dependent upon and regulated by a hormone produced by the kidneys called erythropoietin. Image depicting erythropoiesis

Hembase Data Generation

Our laboratory investigates genes transcribed in human erythroid cells as they differentiate into mature red blood cells. Messenger RNA was isolated from those cells and used to generate gene libraries. Sequencing several thousand expressed sequence tags (EST) from those libraries was then performed. Those EST and sequences encoding several hundred additional genes with known expression in erythroid cells are compiled here as a database of human erythroid gene activity. The database is organized and linked according to the location of these sequences within the human genome.

Additional information on Hembase can be found in the following publication:

Goh SH, Lee YT, Bouffard GG, Miller JL. Hembase: browser and genome portal for hematology and erythroid biology. Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Jan 1; 32 (32; 2004 Jan 1; Database issue):D572-4.

For questions, contact Jeffery L. Miller.


The following groups assisted with the development of this database:

The following individuals assisted with the development of this database:

  • Gerard Bouffard
  • Sandy Desautel
  • Nadia Douaji
  • Sung-Ho Goh
  • Y. Terry Lee
  • Jim Kent
  • Rick Roland
  • Tatiana Shima
  • Tiffany Trice