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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, January 1991; 2(5)

Human Genome II Examines Progress

Human Genome II, the second international conference on the status and future of research on the human genome, was held October 22-24, 1990, in San Diego. The meeting, sponsored by the Human Genome Organisation and Science magazine, was chaired by James Watson (Director, NIH National Center for Human Genome Research) and Charles Cantor (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory). The purpose of the conference was to examine progress made in Human Genome Project planning and implementation since the 1989 conference and to provide a forum for communication among the project's administration and scientists, the larger scientific community, and the general public.

The diverse topics covered, the technological improvements and data accumulation reported, and the ambitious plans revealed at the conference testify to the international genome effort's vitality and productivity. Over 700 scientists attended the conference, whose program sessions covered the following topics:

  • Genome project organization and funding mechanisms.
  • Ethical, legal, and social issues related to the use of data produced by the Human Genome Project.
  • Study of model organisms: primarily yeast, roundworm, fruit fly, and mouse.
  • New methods: lasers and fluorescent labels; sequencing by hybridization; cloning techniques for expressed or genomic sequences; solid supports for template preparation and sequencing; and computing devices for high-speed sequence comparisons.
  • Genetic diversity in humans: disease genes, human leucocyte antigen alleles, mitochondrial sequences, interspersed repetitive sequences, and flow karyotypes of individual chromosomes.
  • Genetic regions of interest: a variety of tumor suppressor alleles (e.g., neurofibromatosis, polyposis coli, Wilms' tumor); the cystic fibrosis gene sequence and implications; the fragile X region; oncogenes; and developmental regulator genes.
  • Large-scale DNA sequencing projects: design, automation, error handling, and computing needs.

Some 100 posters reported details of technical developments and recently acquired data from around the world; more than a dozen industry-sponsored workshops presented new products and technologies for genome research.

Several major themes emerged from the conference:

  • The human DNA sequence is proving extremely interesting to applied and basic molecular biologists alike; indicators of genetic susceptibility to disease and clues to developmental regulation and evolutionary processes have already begun to appear.
  • The crucial importance of model organism studies is continually underscored by work on protein sequence homologies and regulatory elements; human genes are now being recognized and isolated by their homologies with genes of model organisms.
  • Major improvements in sequencing technologies have been made in a short time. Yet, the sequencing production rate must increase significantly, and the cost must decrease at least tenfold. High throughput and achievement of capabilities for adding finished data directly into sequence databases remain high-priority items.
  • New emphasis is being placed on informatics development. Sophisticated methods are needed for sequence assembly and for managing the complex flow of information and materials through a large-scale sequencing project. Other needs include databases and analysis applications capable of handling the enormous quantity of data that will be generated.

Reports presented and events of the past year suggest that answers to basic biological questions regarding structure/function relationships and health and disease may be within grasp.

Human Genome III: October 21-23 San Diego, CA


  • Scherago Assoc., Inc.
    Fax: 212/382-1921

Reported by Kathleen H. Mavournin
HGMIS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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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 (v2n5).

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.