Ari Patrinos, director of biological and environmental research at the DOE, said the project changed its name after members of a congressional subcommittee that oversees the US National Institutes of Health voiced concern that the original name may lead people to infer that the program deals with human biology - traditionally an NIH endeavor, and not a DOE responsibility.
Patrinos stressed that the overall goals and mission of Genomes to Life have not changed. He said the name change began several months ago, and that it is a gradual process. "It hasn't been an abrupt change," he said.
Some members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an authorizing group that has jurisdiction over NIH programs, "were concerned that the name of the [Genomes to Life] program made it sound, at least to them, that it was an NIH program," Patrinos told GenomeWeb News this week. "For the purposes of clarification, they encouraged us to change the name." The DOE is overseen by the House Energy and Water Committees.
He said the new name is a "more neutral term that does not necessarily have any particular affiliation with a specific agency."
Patrinos said the Genomes to Life name gave members of the commission "the impression that it had to do with human biology. ... The GTL program is focused on energy applications" such as bioremediation, clean energy production, and carbon sequestration.