Human Genome Project


What is the Human Genome Project?

HGP was a scientific research primary goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up DNA.

The Human Genome Project was to:

1. identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA,

2. determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA,

3. store this information in databases,

4. improve tools for data analysis,

5. transfer related technologies to the private sector, and address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.

Goals of the project

To help achieve these goals, researchers also studied the genetic makeup of several nonhuman organisms. These include the common human gut bacterium Escherichia coli, the fruit fly, and the laboratory mouse.

A unique aspect of the U.S. Human Genome Project is that it was the first large scientific undertaking to address potential ELSI implications arising from project data.

Another important feature of the project was the federal government's long-standing dedication to the transfer of technology to the private sector. By licensing technologies to private companies and awarding grants for innovative research, the project catalyzed the multibillion-dollar U.S. biotechnology industry and fostered the development of new medical application.


Whats a genome?

A genome is all the DNA in an organism, including its genes. Genes carry information for making all the proteins required by all organisms. These proteins determine, among other things, how the organism looks, how well its body metabolizes food or fights infection, and sometimes even how it behaves.

DNA is made up of four similar chemicals (called bases and abbreviated A, T, C, and G) that are repeated millions or billions of times throughout a genome. The human genome, for example, has 3 billion pairs of bases.

The particular order of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs is extremely important. The order underlies all of life's diversity, even dictating whether an organism is human or another species such as yeast, rice, or fruit fly, all of which have their own genomes and are themselves the focus of genome projects. Because all organisms are related through similarities in DNA sequences, insights gained from nonhuman genomes often lead to new knowledge about human biology.