Human Genome Project Information Archive

Archive Site Provided for Historical Purposes

Major Events in the U.S. Human Genome Project and Related Projects

Acronyms listed below

The Human Genome Project (HGP) refers to the international 13-year effort, formally begun in October 1990 and completed in 2003, to discover all the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 human genes and make them accessible for further biological study. Another project goal was to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA subunits (bases in the human genome). As part of the HGP, parallel studies were carried out on selected model organisms such as the bacterium Escherichia coli and the mouse to help develop the technology and interpret human gene function. The DOE Human Genome Program and the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) together sponsored the U.S. Human Genome Project. Research also was sponsored and carried out at institutions around the world.

The timeline below has been extended past completion of the HGP to include important related events up to 2013.



  • Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing report released by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. [October 2012]
  • ENCODE project published results from cross-consortium integrative analysis, covering more than 4 million regulatory regions in the human genome in 30 coordinated papers in Nature, Science, and other journals. The Nature ENCODE website allows readers to follow a topic through all of the papers in the publication set. See also the UCSC ENCODE Integrative Analysis portal for additional material and analysis resources. [September 2012]
  • Illumina launched MyGenome app for iPad: First tool of its kind for visualizing the human genome. [June 2012]












  • Human chromosome 20 published. Nature 414, 865–71. See also HGN article. [December 20, 2001]
  • "Genomes: 15 years later"—a perspective from Charles DeLisi, HGP pioneer. (Human Genome News 11(3–4). [July 2001]
  • Publication of Initial Working Draft Sequence [February 12, 2001]
    Special issues of Science (February 16, 2001) and Nature (February 15, 2001) contained the working draft of the human genome sequence. Nature papers included initial analysis of the descriptions of the sequence generated by the publicly sponsored Human Genome Project, while Science publications focused on the draft sequence reported by the private company, Celera Genomics. A press conference was held at 10 a.m., Monday, February 12, 2001, to discuss the landmark publications. Links for more information follow.















  • "The genome project," New York Times Magazine 12–13. [December 13, 1987]
  • Congressionally chartered DOE advisory committee, HERAC, unanimiously recommended a 15-year, multidisciplinary, scientific, and technological undertaking to map and sequence the human genome. DOE designated multidisciplinary human genome centers. (See "Report on the Human Genome Initiative," prepared by HERAC, U.S. DOE Document ER-0382; see also "Human genome sequencing plan wins unanimous approval in US." Nature 326, 429. [April 2, 1987]
  • NIH NIGMS begins funding of genome projects. [1987]



  • The online database, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM), was created in 1985 by a collaboration between the National Library of Medicine and the William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins. This database was initiated in the early 1960s by Dr. Victor A. McKusick as a printed catalog of mendelian traits and disorders, entitled Mendelian Inheritance in Man (MIM).
  • Robert Sinsheimer holds meeting on human genome sequencing at University of California, Santa Cruz. See R.L. Sinsheimer, "The Santa Cruz Workshop." Genomics 5, 954. [May 1986]
  • Charles DeLisi and David Smith OHER's Charles DeLisi and David A. Smith commissioned the first Santa Fe conference to assess the feasibility of a Human Genome Initiative. (See also March 3–4, 1986, conference report. [1985]


  • DOE OHER and ICPEMC cosponsored Alta, Utah, conference highlighting the growing role of recombinant DNA technologies. OTA incorporated Alta proceedings into report acknowledging value of human genome reference sequence. Robert Cook-Deegan, "The Alta summit, December 1984," Genomics 5, 661–63. [1984]


  • LANL and LLNL began production of DNA clone (cosmid) libraries representing single chromosomes. [1983]

1977 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • DOE Organization Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-91) mandated the Department of Energy to "assure incorporation of national environmental protection goals in the formulation and implementation of energy programs"; "advance the goal of restoring, protecting, and enhancing environmental quality and assuring public health and safety"; and to conduct "a comprehensive program of research and development on the environmental effects of energy technology and program." [1977]

1974 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Federal Non-Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-577) authorized the Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA, predecessor agency to DOE) to conduct a comprehensive non-nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration program to include the environmental and social consequences of the various related technologies. [1974]
  • Federal Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-438) provided that responsibilities of the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA, predecessor agency to DOE) shall include "engaging in and supporting environmental, biomedical, physical, and safety research related to the development of energy resources and utilization technologies." [1974]

1954 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (P.L. 83-706) authorized the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC, predecessor agency to ERDA and DOE) "to conduct research on the biologic effects of ionizing radiation." [1954]

1946 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-585) provided the initial charter for a comprehensive program of research and development related to the utilization of fissionable and radioactive materials for medical, biological, and health purposes. [1946]


  • ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
  • AEC - Atomic Energy Commission (predecessor to ERDA and DOE)
  • ANL - Argonne National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Laboratory
  • BAC - bacterial artificial chromosome
  • BERAC - Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (successor to HERAC)
  • cDNA - complementary deoxyribonucleic acid
  • DHHS - Department of Health and Human Services at National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid
  • DOE - Department of Energy (successor to AEC and ERDA)
  • EEOC - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • ELSI - ethical, legal, and social issues
  • ERDA - Energy Research and Development Administration (successor to AEC; predecessor to DOE)
  • EST - expressed-sequence tag
  • FY - federal fiscal year (October 1 to September 30)
  • GDB - Genome Database
  • GRAIL - Gene Recognition and Analysis Internet Link
  • HERAC - Health and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (predecessor to BERAC)
  • HGI - Human Genome Initiative
  • HGP - Human Genome Project, Human Genome Program
  • HUGO - Human Genome Organisation
  • ICPEMC - International Commission for Protection Against Environmental Mutagens and Carcinogens
  • IMAGE - Integrated Molecular Analysis of Gene Expression
  • IOM - Institute of Medicine
  • JGI - Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California. The JGI houses the DOE's production sequencing facility.
  • LANL - Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Laboratory
  • LBNL - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Laboratory
  • LLNL - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Laboratory
  • MGP - Microbial Genome Project
  • MOU - memorandum of understanding
  • mRNA - messenger ribonucleic acid
  • NAS - National Academy of Sciences
  • NCHGR - National Center for Human Genome Research at NIH; renamed NHGRI in 1997
  • NHGRI - National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH; previously known as NCHGR
  • NIGMS - National Institute of General Medical Sciences at NIH
  • NIH - National Institutes of Health
  • NLM - National Library of Medicine at NIH
  • NRC - National Research Council
  • NYT - New York Times
  • OBER - Office of Biological and Environmental Research, U.S. Department of Energy (formerly OHER)
  • OHER - Office of Health and Environmental Research, U.S. Department of Energy (predecessor to OBER)
  • ORNL - Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Laboratory
  • OTA - Office of Technology Assessment
  • R&D - research and development
  • RFA - Research Funding Announcement
  • SBH - sequencing by hybridization
  • STS - sequence tagged site
  • UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
  • YAC - yeast artificial chromosome

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.

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