Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

5. Genomics Knowledge

Halla Thorsteinsdottir, Abdallah S Daar, Richard D Smith, Peter A Singer


The Human Genome Project

  • Begun in 1990, by Feb 2001: genome sequenced on 599 viruses/viroids, 205 plasmids, 185 organelles, 31 eubacteria, 7 archae, 1 fungus, 1 plant, 2 animals 94% of human genome sequenced, completion in 2003
  • Involves research teams in 20 different countries, and >US$ 3 billion in public sector funding
  • ‘Bermuda Accord’ established data to be made publicly available without restrictions within 24 hours of assembly

Genomics can be applied to understanding the genes of simple bacteria, plants, animals and humans. By February 2001, the genome had been sequenced on 599 viruses and viroids, 205 naturally occurring plasmids, 185 organelles, 31 eubacteria, seven archae, one fungus, one plant and two animals. However, the largest and best-known genomics project is the Human Genome Project.

This is a large-scale global project, involving research teams in 20 different countries, allocated over US$ 3 billion in public sector funding alone. It arose from the belief that taking a global view of genomics was required to tackle this complex subject and to accelerate biomedical research. Begun in 1990, by February 2001 94% of the human genome had been sequenced. It is expected to be completed in 2003, two years earlier than in the original plan.

The public nature of the exercise was confirmed by the 'Bermuda Accord' between major players, including some pharmaceutical companies, which made data publicly available without restrictions within 24 hours of assembly. However, the speed of research efforts was undoubtedly accelerated by the announcement in 1998 by Celera, a private biotechnology company, that it would use a faster sequencing method and make the (patented) data accessible only through private subscription.

Share