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Report Details Economic Benefits of the HGP

Highlights from a 2011 report by Battelle and the Life Technologies Foundation

In 2011, Battelle and the Life Technologies Foundation issued a report titled, "Economic Impact of the Human Genome Project." This was the first major report of this type. It offered five conclusions on the impact of the HGP. [Note: An update was issued in 2013 with more recent economic figures.]

(1) The economic and functional impacts generated by the sequencing of the human genome are already large and widespread. Between 1988 and 2010 the human genome sequencing projects, associated research and industry activity—directly and indirectly—generated an economic (output) impact of $796 billion, personal income exceeding $244 billion, and 3.8 million job-years of employment. In the 2013 update, these numbers increased to economic (output) impact of $965 billion, personal income exceeding $293 billion, and 4.3 million job-years of employment.

(2) The federal government invested $3.8 billion in the HGP through its completion in 2003 ($5.6 billion in 2010 $). This investment was foundational in generating the economic output of $796 billion above, and thus shows a return on investment (ROI) to the U.S. economy of 141 to 1—every $1 of federal HGP investment has contributed to the generation of $141 in the economy.

(3) In 2010 alone, the genomics-enabled industry generated over $3.7 billion in federal taxes and $2.3 billion in U.S. state and local taxes. Thus in one year, revenues returned to government nearly equaled the entire 13-year investment in the HGP.

(4) Overall, however, the impacts of the human genome sequencing are just beginning—large scale benefits in human medicine, agriculture, energy, and environment are still in their early stages. The best is truly yet to come.

(5) The HGP is arguably the single most influential investment to have been made in modern science and a foundation for progress in the biological sciences moving forward.

Following is an image from the 2011 report by Battelle and the Life Technologies Foundation showing the structure of forward and backward linkage impacts associated with the sequencing of the human genome. Click image to enlarge.

The study for the report was done using an 'input–output' economic model, which was questioned in a related Nature News item (May 11, 2011).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.