The Human Genome Project: Thank you, Department of Energy!


Some of you may not know (or care) about the origination of the Human Genome Project. I just left a meeting discussing the archiving of HGP documents within our group in DOE (Biological and Environmental Research Information System group, formerly the Human Genome Management Information System) with members of DOE’s Office of Scientific & Technical Information (OSTI). It was interesting, being a history buff, the inner workings as described by my fearless leader who was there from the beginning in the mid 1980s, yes the ’80s. Not many people know that the NIH was very hesitant to fund some of the approaches used in the project. However, DOE saw a great opportunity and took a chance. After these projects were successful, NIH was glad to throw tons of money into projects. Even Jim Watson (of Watson and Crick fame) was very hesitant at first. If DOE had not had the vision to proceed in unfamiliar directions, perhaps the Human Genome Project would not have turned out as it did. Some of the technologies that came from the Project now enable for cheaper and better analysis of genomes. 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of the completion of the HGP. I am glad the documents stemming from meetings in the initial planning of the HGP will be preserved.

When the HGP was completed, it was a huge accomplishment for mankind. Without it, progress in human genetics would not be possible (see ENCODE). I personally want to thank the vision within DOE.

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