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Human Genome Project Ramps Up, Again; Awards Three Sequencing Centers $81.6M

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WASHINGTON--After completing a three-year pilot phase, organizers of the Human Genome Project at the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) said they now expect to put at least 90 percent of the human genome sequence into a working draft form by spring 2000. The new deadline, the second established by the US/UK project in six months, is even earlier than the 2001 finish date projected by Celera Genomics, or the plan announced by Incyte Pharmaceuticals earlier this month to map the entire genome by the second half of 2000. The public project expects to produce a finished sequence, with errors corrected and gaps closed, by 2003.

NHGRI said it would award $81.6 million to three academic sequencing centers in order to ramp up the sequencing project and create new technologies that will enable scientists to read DNA sequence information. The centers are the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass.; the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In the UK, the Wellcome Trust also announced that it will boost funding for sequencing at the Sanger Center in Cambridge by $77 million.

NHGRI said it would review applications for increased funding from other sequencing pilot projects this month and award additional sequencing production funds in May.

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