Progress, and Applications
of the Human Genome Project
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News Archive Edition
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Congressional Hearing Explores Controversies, Benefits of Genomics
In April the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science of the U.S. House of Representatives conducted hearings on the status and benefits of genome sequencing in the public and private sectors. Speakers included representatives of the U.S. HGP and Celera Genomics, members of Congress, and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Robert Waterston, directory of the HGP sequencing center at Washington University, St. Louis, pointed to fruitful data sharing by the HGP and the private sector. Examples include (1) collaborations led by the pharmaceutical company Merck to develop partial sequences identifying genes and (2) the fruit fly sequencing project by Celera and the HGP.
Examples of private-sector enrichment of public data include the SNP consortium, which is generating a publicly available map containing human DNA variations. (See article.) In September, Celera Genomics announced a reference database with more than 2.8 million unique SNPs, including those screened from public-sector databases. In October a public-private consortium announced the joint sequencing of the laboratory mouse. (See article.) Also, a Monsanto-University of Washington project recently generated a draft sequence of the rice plant genome to be released to the public. These efforts show the value of sharing data to increase knowledge and ensure future discoveries for mutual benefit.
Neal Lane (Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Directory of the Office of Science and Technology Policy) echoed the importance of partnerships between public and private sectors in his testimony to the House committee. His observations follow.
"Sequencing the genome...is only the beginning of genomics," he said. "It is the first step into a future of discoveries and innovations that genomics will enable, that the public and private sectors must pursue together...An expanding, evolving partnership has made human genomic discoveries possible and is now poised to make those discoveries beneficial for everyone...I believe that the policies we have pursued will help to strengthen this partnership, allowing genomic discoveries and innovations to move steadily forward for the benefit of our nation and for all humankind."
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Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
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