Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News Archive Edition
Human Genome News, January 1991; 2(5)
As the Human Genome Project is implemented, an unprecedented flow of new resources and technologies will be released, many with wide-ranging applications to clinical medicine or to improvements in economically important animals, plants, and microorganisms. Because of the vast potential for commercial development of these technologies, the U.S. Congress views the Human Genome Project as an opportunity to strengthen the nation's ability to compete with other countries industrially and economically.
By creating new products, markets, and jobs, rapid deployment of technology from the research laboratory to the marketplace can play an important role in vitalizing the U.S. economy. Application of genome technology to clinical medicine has already begun, with several biotechnology companies predicting an annual $200-million market in genetic tests and personal identification. The pharmaceutical industry is using the new genetic information to improve drug design [see HGN 2(4): 10-11 (November 1990)]. In addition to the impact on medical technologies for humans, investigators and businessmen are anticipating a billion-dollar business in genetically altered animals and plants.
Progress of the genome effort depends on technology development to enable researchers to map and sequence DNA more efficiently and economically. Collaboration between human genome laboratories and the private sector can engender a more focused approach to the technology challenge and allow the project to expand its capital and expertise base.
One mission of the DOE Human Genome Centers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is to facilitate the transfer of new genome technologies and resources to industry and small businesses for broader application by the commercial sector. To accomplish this mission, all three laboratories are exploring ways to increase cooperation with the private sector.
A number of projects involving interaction between the centers and the private sector are now under way, and additional interactions (not listed) are in the preliminary stages. In some instances, private industries are marketing technologies developed at research laboratories and are providing research funds or other resources; other collaborative programs involve joint development of technologies and their applications to achieve project goals.
Industry representatives are invited to attend the February DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop to learn more about DOE-funded genome projects.
For information, contact:
Perhaps the ultimate technology transfer occurs when one large project creates tools and technologies useful for the initiation of other related projects, whose research in turn produces data that benefits the originating project.
The Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching its own research effort to study selected traits of key food and forest crops, using methods developed in the Human Genome Project. The agricultural plant genome project will not focus on mapping an entire genome but will search instead for genes that control economically important traits such as yield, nutritional content, and resistance to disease, insects, and drought.
Recognizing that gene mapping can contribute toward improving livestock, animal scientists are now making a concerted effort to launch their own genome projects; their efforts will concentrate on mapping genes that control traits such as fat deposition, increased disease resistance, and litter size. Animal researchers are convinced that human chromosome mapping efforts can help direct their own search for genes, since considerable homology has been found to occur between the genomes.
As technology transfer comes full circle, human genome mapping efforts will reap benefits from the implementation of these plant and animal projects as they reveal information fundamental to the search for specific human genes.
Because industry also benefits from opportunities to develop the technologies and resources that will eventually be required for genome project work, these interactions can be viewed as two-way technology transfers. National laboratory human genome centers provide a variety of opportunities for the private sector to collaborate on joint projects or to obtain direct access to technology.
Private-sector involvement in research and development can determine how successfully the technology transfers to the marketplace, and collaborative efforts can speed development of essential tools for genome research. Effective publication of opportunities for collaboration is, therefore, particularly important. Opportunities for cooperative work or licensing are communicated in several ways:
STEP 1. CONTACT: To receive general information about laboratories and specific data about ongoing programs and their current output, persons interested in technology transfer should first contact the technology transfer offices of the DOE human genome centers:
The company will be asked to send general information to the center, possibly including an annual report. Technology transfer offices may initiate discussions between a company and appropriate scientists or engineers after receipt of this information.
STEP 2. MEETING: Interested companies may be invited to the centers to view facilities and to continue discussions; laboratory and company representatives then work together to develop collaborative programs. If there is a large response from the private sector to a particular project, a workshop may be held to discuss opportunities for collaborations or licenses.
STEP 3. PROPOSAL: After a proposal for the collaborative program or licensing plan is submitted for evaluation, the center may request a business development plan to eliminate technically unqualified companies from consideration and to ensure the appropriateness of the planned resource or technology use.
STEP 4. APPLICANT SELECTION: Reviewers, including representatives from noncompeting businesses and the centers' legal and technical/scientific offices, consider all aspects of each proposal, after which the company most appropriate for the interaction is selected.
National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989
Last year, in the continuing effort to facilitate interaction between the public and DOE national laboratories, the U.S. Congress passed the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act. When implemented, this law will allow more direct interaction among the research laboratories, industry, academia, and state and local government agencies.
Written by Denise K. Casey
HGMIS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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).
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.
Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.