What is the human genome project?
Begun formally in 1990, the U.S. Human Genome Project was a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The project originally was planned to last 15 years, but rapid technological advances accelerated the completion date to 2003. Project goals were to:
• Identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA
• Determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA
• Store this information in databases
• Improve tools for data analysis
• Transfer related technologies to the private sector
• Address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.
To help achieve these goals, researchers also studied the genetic makeup of several nonhuman organisms. These include the common human gut bacterium Escherichia coli, the fruit fly, and the laboratory mouse.
The Human Genome Project is important because it helps scientists identify unknown genes, speeds up research and helps scientists identify genes and the link between mutated genes and all diseases (for example, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease).