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Welcome to the Ninth ContractorGrantee Workshop sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) genomics programs. This workshop provides a unique opportunity for DOE genome investigators to discuss and share the successes, problems, and challenges of their research as well as new resources and software capabilities. The meeting also provides scientists and administrative staff with an overview of the program's progress and content, a chance to assess the impact of new technologies, and, perhaps most important, a forum for initiating new collaborations. We hope you will take full advantage of the opportunities offered by this meeting and include a visit to the DOE Joint Genome Institute's Production Genomics Facility in Walnut Creek.
These abstracts describe the most recent activities and accomplishments of grantees and contractors funded by DOE's human genome and microbial genome programs, as well as the more recent Genomes to Life initiative. We also have included talks from invited guests who will discuss related efforts and opportunities for the biology enabled by genome research. All genome projects funded by the Biological and Environmental Research program will be represented at poster sessions. Plan to meet with the researchers who make this program a success and take advantage of all the formal and informal opportunities for discussion and exchange of information available at this workshop.
With the draft human sequence gradually maturing into high-quality, Bermuda-Standard finished sequence, the full complement of genes eventually will be identified. Completion of gene inventories for the human, several model organisms, and an increasing number of microbes has forever changed the practice and power of biology. Simple descriptions of genes and their most evident actions are no longer adequate. The overarching goal now is to achieve effective quantitative, and hence testable, predictive models of cells and their many constituent processes. A major challenge lies in the large number of complex macromolecular machines that manage and transact the many processes and adaptations of a cell.
With respect to the broad range of interesting potential target organisms, the DOE role can be comprehensive for some and enabling for many others. Many enabling resources and technologies initially sponsored by DOE in the Human Genome Project have since enjoyed broad usage. These include BAC resources for mapping and sequencing, thermosequenases, improved fluorescent dye labels, and capillary-based DNA sequencers. The DOE Production Genomics Facility represents another enabling resource, advancing the understanding of genomes of many species by generating annotated draft genome sequence in a cost-effective process. Many other emerging capabilities evident in the newer instrumentation and informatics technologies supported by DOE promise to bring high-throughput efficiencies to many aspects of functional analysis.
The Genomes to Life initiative, begun in FY 2002, has a comprehensive agenda developed by experts in diverse disciplines. Its initial targets are microbes having beneficial roles in generating clean energy, mitigating global climate change, restoring the environment, and neutralizing bioterrorism threats. With only thousands of genes directing microbial cell actions, the effective modeling of multicomponent protein complexes and their interactions with the environment is more tractable than in higher organisms.
Within the Human Genome Project, DOE is finishing chromosomes 5, 16, and 19, representing around 10% (or 250 million base pairs) of the euchromatin in the human genome. The mechanisms of gene regulation in these three chromosomes will be of continuing DOE interest. Elucidation of these mechanisms benefits from the sequencing of several model organisms or their genomic regions syntenic with human chromosomes 5, 16, and 19. Particular genes of interest are those mediating individual susceptibilities to environmental toxins and ionizing radiation.
Although many challenges lie ahead, particularly in anticipating and preparing for the post Human Genome Project era, we are more optimistic than ever about the success of this grand project and its many contributions to science and society. Yet we cannot afford to be complacent, and workshop presenters on ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) will remind and challenge all of us that science has societal impacts that we must confront. ELSI implications are not just research topics for ELSI investigators but real-life issues that need to be considered in the context of all genome research and with the active participation of all involved scientists.
We look forward to a very interesting and productive meeting and offer our sincere thanks to all the organizers and to you, the scientists, whose vision and efforts continue to realize the promise of genome research.
Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research
Office of Biological and Environmental Research
U.S. Department of Energy
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.