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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, November 1990; 2(4)

New NIH Genome Centers Signal Milestone

Four new NIH human genome research centers have been established at U.S. universities to improve genome research technology and to develop complete genetic and physical maps of three human chromosomes and several mouse chromosomes. A private institution project mapping a fourth chromosome has been cofunded with DOE.

The 5-year genome center grants go to scientists at Washington University in St. Louis; the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The project grant was awarded to The Salk Institute.

As hubs of the diverse NCHGR research program, the centers will be made up of several different but interrelated research projects. Centers will also serve as resources to outside scientists by providing them with newly developed research materials, opportunities to learn new techniques, and access to computer databases containing genome research results.

In announcing the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) grants, Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan said, "These centers signal an important milestone in the history of biomedical research. Technologies developed by genome project scientists will change the face of medical research well into the next century."

Over the past 2 years, NCHGR has been establishing a plan and organizing its research programs, says NCHGR Director James Watson. "With these new research centers, we have begun to do work we said we would do."

Washington University, St. Louis

First-year award $2,340,564
Under the direction of David Schlessinger and Maynard Olson, the Washington University Human Genome Center will use yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) technology, developed at this laboratory, to aid in the construction of complete maps of human chromosomes 7 and X. Chromosome 7 is believed to contain a total of about 5000 genes, including the cystic fibrosis gene and genes that control immune response. The X chromosome has also been the target of intensive study; genes for hemophilia A and B, diseases of the adrenal gland, fragile X syndrome, and color blindness are among those located on the X chromosome.

University of California, San Francisco

First-year award $2,240,242
Researchers headed by Richard Myers and David Cox will use a variety of techniques to complete a map of chromosome 4, which, at about 200 million nucleotides, is one of the largest chromosomes and is believed to contain genes for Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Using in situ hybridization, researchers will first construct a rough map of the chromosome and then fill in the details with landmarks prepared by other methods. The UCSF center will also have components at the University of Iowa and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

First-year award $2,178,552
Eric Lander (Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research) will lead a consortium of 12 principal researchers at MIT, Whitehead, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Jackson Laboratories. They will construct highly detailed maps of mouse chromosomes 1, 11, and X, with the long-term goal of mapping the entire mouse genome. Because the mouse and human genomes are very similar, scientists have used mouse mutations as a model to study the effects of mutations on cell function, immunology, neurobiology, reproduction, and behavior. The MIT center will prepare a YAC library as a resource for other scientists interested in studying the mouse genome.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

First-year award $1,560,942
A group led by Francis Collins will focus on improving technologies and speeding up the process of identifying disease genes "from clinic to base pair." The current long and arduous search for disease genes begins with collecting DNA from affected people and their relatives and continues through many difficult steps.

The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

Glen Evans and his coworkers are mapping human chromosome 11 (project supported by NCHGR and DOE), to which 133 genes have been mapped, including those for Wilms' tumor, genitourinary defects, and mental retardation. Genes that play a role in several forms of cancer and allergies are also believed to be located on chromosome 11.


  • Washington University
    Chromosomes 7, X
  • UCSF
    Chromosome 4
  • MIT
    Mouse chromosomes 1, 11, X
  • University of Michigan
    Mapping technology

DOE Human Genome Program Centers

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
    Chromosome 19
  • Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
    Chromosome 21
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Chromosome 16

Cofunded DOE-NIH Project

  • The Salk Institute
    Chromosome 11


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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n4).

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.