A Worldwide Effort
The Human Genome Project Around the World
National Center for Human Genome Research, National Institutes
of Health. "New Tools for Tomorrow's Health Research." Bethesda, MD:
Department of Health and Human Services, 1992.
The six-foot thread of DNA inside each human cell might be thought of
as the thread unifying all of mankind. Because information about the
human genome will be applicable to the entire human race, not only the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), but also other U.S. agencies and
indeed programs in other countries will fund and carry out the goals
of the genome project.
In the U.S., institutions currently supporting genome programs include
the NIH, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Agriculture
(USDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the privately
funded Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).
The DOE has established a human genome program to expand its ability
to investigate the effects of radiation and energy-related chemicals
on human genetic material. The major objectives of their program are
the development of resources, including expanded sets of overlapping
DNA fragments and new chromosome mapping and DNA sequencing
technologies. Database management systems, including automated
techniques for entering DNA sequences into databases, and computer
systems for analyzing genome data, are also the focus of DOE efforts.
The NIH has established a formal Memorandum of Understanding with DOE,
which lays out guidelines for interactions between the two agencies.
The NIH's National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) and DOE
staff meet regularly, and a subcommittee of both DOE and NCHGR
advisors meet to develop complementary research plans.
The USDA has begun to map and sequence the genomes of a number of
plants important to agriculture and forestry. Already genetic linkage
maps are being constructed for corn, tomatoes, wheat, potatoes,
cotton, alfalfa, and grapes. Genes that control or influence flavor,
yield, drought tolerance, or insect resistance for certain plants have
The NSF has a special interest in developing hardware and software
tools, providing instrumentation and facilities for genetic research,
supporting basic genetics research (primarily on nonhuman organisms),
and developing biological databases. In collaboration with the NCHGR
and other agencies, the NSF has also launched a project to map and
sequence the genome of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a relatively
simple plant in the mustard family used widely in studies of plant
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a private, non-profit
organization, currently funds several resources important to the
Human Genome Project.
These include a database at the Center for the Study
of Human Polymorphisms (CEPH) in Paris, which contains genetic linkage
information on a large number of multi-generation families.
Internationally, NCHGR is collaborating with the Human Genome
Organization (HUGO). Established in 1988, HUGO is an international
consortium of molecular biologists organized to ensure that the
is coordinated internationally and that the information
gleaned by project researchers will be freely accessible to scientists
worldwide. HUGO will promote international cooperation and negotiate
Other countries involved in human genome research include the United
Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, Canada, and Israel.
France's CEPH is a centerpiece for researchers developing genetic
linkage and physical maps of the human genome. The Japanese are
focusing efforts on developing automated technology for DNA
sequencing, identifying E. coli, rice, a yeast chromosome, and
Arabidopsis as models to sequence during technology development.
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