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Where Are We One Year After the Completion of Human Genome Project?

NEW YORK, April 14 (GenomeWeb News) - Today marks the one-year anniversary of the formal completion of the Human Genome Project and there are those who wonder where the benefits are from this feat of scientific investigation.

 

At a panel discussion sponsored by RockefellerUniversity last night, Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, addressed public reaction to completing the first version of the human genome sequence. In response to those who expressed disappointment that the promised benefits have not yet arrived, Collins said that getting the sequence was a bit "like opening a closet with too much stuff inside; it all sort of fell on us."

 

And in contrast to public perception that genomics is currently going through a quiet period, during which little of significance is happening, Collins said researchers making sense of the human genome sequence are now engaged in some of the most exciting science he's ever seen.

 

Furthermore, he described a vision for how genomics might affect health care 10 years from now. By 2014, the knowledge and technology derived from the human genome project should result in tests for susceptibility to a half dozen to a dozen diseases, better drugs based on molecular understanding of disease, and the ability to better stratify patient populations with pharmacogenomics, he said.

 

Last year, at this time there were parties, press conferences, and publications celebrating both the completion of the sequencing of the human genome and the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's DNA structure discovery. Click here to read GenomeWeb's coverage of the event.

 

Today, there are 186 completed and published genomes -- 142 bacterial, 18 archaeal, and 26 eukaryal, according to the Genomes Online Database. Ongoing sequencing projects include 490 prokaryotic, and 415 eukaryotic genomes, including eight chromosomes.

 

The latest mammalian genome sequenced to high quality, and published, is the laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus), which was completed last month, joining human and the mouse. Click here to read GenomeWeb's report.

 

The National Human Genome Research Institute is planning National DNA Day on April 30 to mark the anniversary with ambassadors - faculty, staff, and postdoctoral fellows -- from the organization visiting high schools around the country to speak about genomic science.

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