The human genome project.


The Human Genome Project in the United States is now well underway. Its programmatic direction was largely set by a National Research Council report issued in 1988. The broad framework supplied by this report has survived almost unchanged despite an upheaval in the technology of genome analysis. This upheaval has primarily affected physical and genetic mapping, the two dominant activities in the present phase of the project. Advances in mapping techniques have allowed good progress toward the specific goals of the project and are also providing strong corollary benefits throughout biomedical research. Actual DNA sequencing of the genomes of the human and model organisms is still at an early stage. There has been little progress in the intrinsic efficiency of DNA-sequence determination. However, refinements in experimental protocols, instrumentation, and project management have made it practical to acquire sequence data on an enlarged scale. It is also increasingly apparent that DNA-sequence data provide a potent means of relating knowledge gained from the study of model organisms to human biology. There is as yet little indication that the infusion of technology from outside biology into the Human Genome Project has been effectively stimulated. Opportunities in this area remain large, posing substantial technical and policy challenges.

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