SILVER SPRING, Md., May 20 - November will mark the start of major changes at the National Human Genome Research Institute as the group makes its final pass at completing the full sequence of the human genome in April 2003.
Speaking to the meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research here today, NHGRI director and advisory council head Francis Collins said that as of yesterday, 78.2 percent of the public consortium's sequence is finished, up from 66 percent in February.
In November, the NHGRI will put together a draft proposal for its future, Collins said. In February 2003, the institute will finalize those plans. Two months after that the NHGRI will publish the final version of the human genome sequence and publicize the group's future. The timing in April roughly coincides with the 50-year anniversary of Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.
With the human genome nearly complete, the institute is likely to refocus its mission to include other projects or organisms. "By this time next year, the NHGRI may be just calling itself the 'National Genome Research Institute,'" quipped one academic who attended this morning's meeting.