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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, September 1990; 2(3)

Program Advisory Committee on the Human Genome

The NIH Program Advisory Committee on the Human Genome (PACHG) convened in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 18 to hear scientific presentations on genomic research, review reports from the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) and the joint working groups, and discuss administrative and other issues and events related to the Human Genome Project.

After welcoming the committee members (see Members and their Affiliations) and guests, Chairman Norton Zinder remarked that antipathy toward the project was evident in the scientific community.This antipathy, he said, seems to stem in part from the erroneous perception that the genome project has caused a decrease in NIH funding for other research. He encouraged participants to promote the program and to dispel misperceptions through communication with their colleagues.

NCHGR Deputy Director Elke Jordan compared funding estimates for FY 1991 with those of the FY 1991 President's budget, which includes increases for research centers and training. She also discussed the NCHGR award rate, professional seniority and geographic distribution of grantees, and distribution of awards among the areas of mapping, sequencing, and technology development.

The meeting continued with scientific presentations on advances in genomic research. Robert Waterston (Washington University) described a project being conducted in collaboration with Cambridge University scientists to map and sequence the genome of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. Thomas Brennan (Genomyx, Inc.) reported on efforts to develop new sequencing technology, and David Housman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) discussed progress in mapping chromosome 11, specifically in isolating the Wilms' tumor gene.

PACHG members adopted a resolution expressing appreciation to the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) (see CEPH Resolution Adopted by PACHG).

The afternoon session began with presentations by NCHGR staff on concepts for new initiatives. Bettie Graham described a proposed program announcement designed to be more specific than the previous one and to incorporate the objectives outlined in the 5-year plan. She added that the new program announcement would emphasize technology development and collaborative research and establish research objectives in genetic and physical mapping, sequencing, and informatics. She also discussed the NCHGR new minority initiative; to enable minority students or faculty to attend meetings or courses relevant to the Human Genome Project, the program would provide travel supplements to active genome-related research grants. A third initiative, for pilot projects or feasibility studies for genomic analysis, would encourage high-risk proposals for which there are no preliminary data. Grants would be limited to approximately $100,000 and a maximum of 2 years.

Jane Peterson outlined the content of a proposed RFA (Request For Applications) on sequencing. This RFA would incorporate the Joint Sequencing Working Group's suggestion that large-scale pilot projects attempt to sequence about 3 Mbp of contiguous DNA segments within 3 years.

Mark Guyer briefed the committee on a proposed RFA to support development of the framework genetic linkage map consisting of index markers; the map was described by the Joint Mapping Working Group. He emphasized that NCHGR considered the availability of maps and markers developed with the support of NCHGR to be essential. Investigators will be urged to deposit index markers in a central repository.

The final discussion focused on setting an agenda for the annual NIH and DOE retreat, held to assess progress in meeting the 5-year plan goals. Zinder believed an examination of the Human Genome Project's approach to communicating with the scientific community should be among the issues addressed. David Botstein called for increased efforts to communicate the fact that the program represents "good science" and that its goals are achievable. He added that although the community's concern about restricted funding is understandable, the Human Genome Project is not the cause of the problem.

Submitted by Leslie Fink, NCHGR
Office of Human Genome Communication

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The electronic form of the newsletter may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n3).

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.