Human Genome Project
Human curiosity is one of the most powerful engines that drive new knowledge, development, advancements and life improvements today. Some 100,000 or 200,000 years ago Homo sapiens emerged, and up to today humans are still searching for answers such as what we are and where we came from.
For all of the diversity of the world's more than five billion people, full of creativity and contradictions, every human mind and body is built and runs with fewer than 100,000 kinds of protein molecules. And for each of the proteins, a single corresponding gene is responsible to ensure an adequate and timely supply. Genes are often described as the biological blueprints or recipes for life and are found in the DNA, carrying the genetic information from one generation to the next. Many people are convinced that genes are special, that they contain a person's essence, which has enormous spiritual and commercial value. In the deepest sense, we are who we are because of our genes, and therefore it is essential to gain knowledge about the manifold mysteries of life, our genes, and our biological inheritance in full ultimate molecular detail. With advances in molecular genetics, it became possible to launch the Human Genome Project (HGP) - a sequencing project that determines the genetic makeup of an organism by reading off the sequence of the three billion DNA bases, which encode all of the information necessary for the life of the organism. Profits, curiosity and dreams of better methods to prevent and treat diseases are driving efforts to find and decode human genes. The sequence of our genome will ultimately allow us to discover the secrets of life's processes, the biochemical basis of our senses and our memory, our development and our aging, our similarities and individual differences. The genome project itself offers no promises of cancer cures or quick fixes for Alzheimer's disease, and no detailed understanding of genius or schizophrenia. But if we are ever to uncover the mysteries of carcinogenesis, if we are ever to know how biochemistry contributes to mental illness, if we ever hope to really understand the processes of growth and development, we must first have a detailed map of the genetic landscape. That's what the HGP promises and what makes this international effort so breathtaking.
Human Genome Background and History
The idea of the HGP was initiated in 1977, when simple and efficient methods for sequencing DNA were described. Before that time the possibility of sequencing the entire human genome was no more than extreme wishful thinking. In the 1980's it was becoming increasingly apparent to many scientists that an understanding of basic biology would be greatly enhanced if the detailed structure of DNA was understood. Over the last two decades, automated DNA sequencers have made the process of obtaining the base-by-base sequence of DNA easier. In 1984, for the first time a meeting was sponsored by the Department...