Human Genome Project

A lot of exciting events are happening in the field of genetics. One of the latest is the international effort to make a map of the entire human DNA (also called the genome). Here is some information that will help you understand what is going on with the Human Genome Project (HGP).

What is the HGP?

The HGP is a massive research study that involves organizations from all over the world. It may be the single most important project in biology and the field of medicine. It is one that will permanently change the way we look at life. Through this study, scientists are trying to identify all of the genetic material (DNA) contained in each one of our cells (the genome). They are trying to discover which traits each piece of DNA (gene) represents. Five main goals have been set forth by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) for this project:

  • To develop the tools needed to analyze the data
  • To identify all the genes in human DNA (estimated to be 80,000-100,000)
  • To determine where these genes are located on the DNA
  • To address the ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise from learning this information
  • To store this information in databases for future use

How could the HGP affect me?

Researchers who are working on the HGP state that it can impact many aspects of life. By studying DNA, we can solve many challenges facing health care, energy sources, agriculture, and environmental cleanup.This project can also help mankind in the following ways:  

  • Make diagnosing diseases quicker and more reliable
  • Allow the creation of new, more effective drugs
  • Develop "gene therapy" where defective genes can be replaced with healthy ones
  • Lead to better treatments of infectious diseases by better understanding microbes.
  • Help families predict and solve potential problems with newborns.
  • Create disease resistant plants that will boost the farming economy.

Who is responsible for the HGP?

The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the HGP in the U.S. in 1990. Many laboratories around the U.S. receive funding from one or both of these agencies for Human Genome Project research. Colleges, universities and private companies from around the world are working together to accomplish the goals of the HGP. Additional Information.  

Where can I get more information?

Human Genome Project Information

The U.S. Department of Energy sponsors this site. It provides valuable information about current trends in human genome research. It describes the projects goal and status now.

National Human Genome Research Institute

Sponsored by NIH and details the part that NIH plays in the HGP. It provides links to several offices at NIH involved in human genome research.

Genome Glossary

Provides definitions of terms used when communicating about the HGP.

Human Genetics on the Internet

Provides links to sites that give detailed information on the HGP