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Human Genome News Archive Edition
Vol.11, No. 3-4   July 2001
Available in PDF
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In the News

Comparative Genomics


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  • Genome and Biotechnology Meetings
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International Group Coordinates Structural Genomics Efforts

Shapes of Biomolecules Offer Clues to Their Function

As the human genome sequence nears completion, new projects are under way to determine the 3-D shapes of all proteins and other important biomolecules encoded by the human genome and those of key model organisms. The goals of investigators in the international structural genomics community are to discover, analyze, and disseminate 3-D shapes of protein, RNA, and other biological macromolecules representing the range of nature's structural diversity. Currently, there is significant funding for such research in the United States, Canada, European Union, Israel, China, and Japan.

Airlie Meeting, Agreement
In April, a group of some 150 people from 4 continents met at Airlie Center near Washington, D.C., to discuss the general principles and coordination of research in structural genomics. The meeting was sponsored by the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (called RIKEN) in Japan, and U.K.'s Wellcome Trust. The resulting "Airlie Agreement" builds on one produced at the first such meeting held at the Wellcome Trust a year before.

The Airlie group reached general agreement on collaboration in a number of areas, including standards for early data release, criteria for assessing the quality of structures, sharing of targeted protein lists, and archiving and curating data.

Specifically, the "Airlie Agreement" provides for open sharing of scientific data and technological expertise. The consensus conditions for data sharing reflect the balance between two different goals timely and unrestricted release of all data and consideration for intellectual-property regulations that vary significantly in different countries. For projects with public funding, all data on biomolecular shapes are to be made freely available in all countries soon after their determination. In addition, the agreement recognized the potential for collaboration among researchers in academia and industry.

The group elected an executive committee to establish an international organization for structural genomics and to plan the next meeting, scheduled for October 2002 in Berlin. The executive committee consists of Thomas Terwilliger (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Udo Heinemann (Max-Delbruck- Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin), and Shigeyuki Yokoyama (RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center, Yokohama, Japan).


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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v11n3-4).

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.