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Human Genome News, Mar.-Apr. 1995; 6(6)

Beijing Hosts 2nd South-North Conference

The Second South-North Conference, held in Beijing on November 6-10, 1994, demonstrated that developing countries are participating meaningfully in the Human Genome Project. Both in overall session structure and the high level of scientific content, the conference exemplified the goals of its sponsors-United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Peking University, and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO.

In this and previous conferences, UNESCO has established three major ways in which developing countries and populations can participate in the genome project:

  • Give special attention to genetic traits, including inherited diseases or susceptibilities in native populations. Isolated populations are especially important in genetic analyses.
  • Organize scientific work using the best available technologies for mapping and sequencing at least some representative sites. Special attention would be given to organisms or traits of particular value or interest to societies.
  • Take part in moral and ethical discussions on beneficial uses of genetic technology and safeguards of individual privacy.

The First South-North conference, held in Brazil in 1992, emphasized planning and initial work at a number of sites. [see HGN 4(4), 12-13 (November 1992).] This second conference concentrated on an update of scientific work and demonstrated substantive Chinese contributions, including a number of presentations on the genetic diversity of some 50 ethnic groups. Many delegates emphasized the sense of responsibility shared by the Chinese government and investigators regarding human genome studies in a country with more than 20% of the total world population.

Chinese researchers presented significant scientific achievements in the following areas:

  • Rice genome studies, from long-range mapping to blight resistance;
  • Human genome research, including long-range mapping of portions of the X chromosome; and
  • Technology development, with contributions to YAC cloning and bioengineering. Disease-gene presentations were comparable to studies from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Delegates from Brazil, Kenya, and Shanghai made impressive presentations, respectively, on molecular biology techniques for genome research, studies of the intracellular protozoan parasite Theileria parva, and YAC cloning and mapping of the Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene region.

These South-North conferences have established that genome analysis is thriving globally, with some high-quality laboratory groups functioning in developing countries.

David Schlessinger (Washington University School of Medicine) and Santiago Grisolia (Instituto de Investigaciones Citologicas)

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v6n6).

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.