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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, July 1990; 2(2)

Joint Informatics Task Force Identifies Issues

The first meeting of the NIH-DOE Joint Informatics Task Force (JITF) was held in Bethesda, Maryland, March 7-8. JITF is a task force set up to offer guidance and to help the agencies coordinate work in genome informatics. For a complete description of the goals and purposes of JITF and a list of task force members, see Human Genome News, Vol. 2, No. 1 (May 1990), pp. 10-11.

The task force, which meets with members of its Liaison Group, identified several major issues at the March meeting:

  1. Data Requirements. Participants discussed the kinds of data the Human Genome Project may produce and how the data should be stored and maintained.
  2. Connectivity and Infrastructure. Internet connections are a minimum requirement for genome centers and would be of great benefit to researchers everywhere. To encourage people to use computer technology, the network should provide interesting and useful resources; funding and practical advice for making use of informatics should also be supplied.
  3. Training. Because genome informatics is based on the interaction of biological scientists with experts in statistics, computer science, and engineering, the interdisciplinary training of scientists is needed.
  4. Long-Term Needs and Goals. The success or failure of past large-scale data projects and the use of past experiences in planning genome project informatics were discussed, and some desirable information technologies not yet available were identified.

Based on the issues raised, four working groups were created to address specific issues. Each working group and its chair are listed below.

The task force recommended the following issues for consideration:

  • publication, in some form, of all future databases funded by agencies involved in genome research;
  • inclusion of an explicit syntax (computer-parsible) for the data collection described in grant proposals for database development, as well as public availability of detailed documentation of this syntax;
  • establishment of mechanisms and funds for collection of small curator-based databases; and
  • more detailed specifications by funding agencies regarding genome informatics issues in instructions to both applicants and reviewers.

Initial reports from the working groups are expected by August, and the next meeting of JITF will be held in October.

Periodic progress reports from the task force will be disseminated so that the scientific community can respond in detail. Input should be directed to JITF members or liaisons or to the working group chairs as appropriate.

Liaison Members

  • James Cassatt - National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  • Diane Hinton - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Elke Jordan - National Center for Human Genome Research
  • David Lipman - National Library of Medicine
  • Robert Robbins - National Science Foundation
  • Keith Russell - National Agriculture Library
  • Jeffrey Schmaltz - DOE

Working Groups

Data Requirements

  • Frank Olken - Chair
  • Elbert Branscomb
  • Peter Pearson
  • Thomas Marr
  • Michael Waterman

Connectivity and Infrastructure

  • Gregory Hamm - Chair
  • Elbert Branscomb
  • Frank Olken
  • Robert Robbins


  • Sylvia Spengler - Chair
  • John Devereux
  • Diane Hinton
  • Mark Pearson

Long-Term Needs and Goals

  • Eric Lander - Chair
  • David Botstein
  • Nathan Goodman
  • Gregory Hamm
  • Thomas Marr

Electronic mail can be sent to JITF members and liaisons using one of these addresses:

  • internet
  • bitnet: jitf@mbcl
  • bitnet: jitf@biovax

Submitted by Gregory Hamm
Molecular Biology Computing Laboratory
Waksman Institute/CABM
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n2).

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.