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The Human Genome Project after a decade: policy issues


The Human Genome Project began a decade ago, its early momentum fueled by two reports. A report from the National Research Council (NRC) in February 1998 endorsed the project and provided the basis for the first joint plan by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy (DOE). A report from the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in April 1988, provided Congress with a means to assess the roles of NIH and DOE. Both reports highlighted the importance of genomics and emphasized the need for a concerted research program. The committees did not predict the large investment of private funds or the extensive patenting of sequences, and they underestimated the rate of progress. Overall, though, the consensus-building provided by the committees helped to set the blueprint for one of the great success stories in modern biology.

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Bruce Alberts chaired the 1988 NRC committee on mapping and sequencing the human genome and John Burris was the study director. Robert Cook-Deegan was project director for the 1988 OTA study.

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Burris, J., Cook-Deegan, R. & Alberts, B. The Human Genome Project after a decade: policy issues. Nat Genet 20, 333–335 (1998).

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