Human genome project

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The Human Genome Project (HBP) (1990-2003): "The year 2003 marks two major milestones in genomics: the completion of the sequencing of the human genome, and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix."

On April 14, 2003, the "International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, led in the United States by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the Department of Energy (DOE), ...announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project more than two years ahead of schedule."[1]

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Human Genome Project

"DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research [OBER, changed in 1998 from the Office of Health and Environmental Research (OHER)] and DOE's predecessor agencies--the Atomic Energy Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration--have long sponsored research into genetics, including that of microbial systems and mammals. This research involves basic studies of genome structure, replication, damage, repair, and the consequences of radiation-induced heritable mutations. Scientists have recognized for years that the DNA in the cell nucleus (the repository of information controlling cell structures and functions) was the cellular component most susceptible to damage from radiation and chemicals. Thus a detailed knowledge of the DNA sequence (in essence its information content) would enable better assessments of damage to it."[2]

National Research Centers

"In addition to production sequencing, a major goal of the JGI is to enrich the sequence data with information about its biological function, dubbed 'functional genomics' as compared to the 'structural genomics' of generating maps and other resources in the Human Genome Project. Functional genomics projects focus on studying domains sequenced by JGI."[4]
  • "In a 1994 spinoff from the HGP, DOE initiated the highly successful Microbial Genome Program to determine the complete sequence of bacteria having potential usefulness in energy, environmental, and evolutionary research."[6]
  • "DOE and NIH cooperated to support critical resources such as the Genome Database (GDB) formerly based at Johns Hopkins University. Cofunded in 1991 as the central international repository of human chromosome mapping and related data, GDB also received some funds from other nations. In addition, nine international nodes of GDB had copies of all GDB data. DOE later assumed lead responsibility for GDB with some NIH funding. Active DOE support for GDB ceased in January 1999, with a copy of the database posted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Genome Annotation Consortium site. GDB has since received other support and is continuing to serve the scientific community from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto."

U.S. Goals

"Rapid progress and technology developments during the first half of the project have affirmed researchers' optimism that the task can be completed ahead of time and within budget. A final 5-year set of U.S. goals was presented to Congress in the fall of 1998. Priorities through 2003 have included the following:[7]

  • "Clone and sequence full-length cDNAs of humans and model organisms, especially mouse.
  • "Develop and improve software for determining and assembling sequences and recognizing expressed genes.
  • "Identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms as measures of human variation.
  • "Continue to study ethical, legal, and social issues related to the project."

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Criticism

  • Richard C. Lewontin
  • Hilary Cunningham , "Colonial Encounters in Postcolonial Contexts: Patenting Indigenous DNA and the Human Genome Diversity Project", Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 18, No. 2, 205-233 (1998).