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February 16, 2001

Human Genome Sequencing

Scientists around the world celebrate in Washington, DC today on the occasion of the publication of two historical papers on the Human Genome Project in the scientific journals Nature and Science. The papers summarize the monumental work of the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and that of Celera Genomics Corporation.

The two groups announced the first sequencing phase of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in June 2000. The current articles describe the first attempts to analyze the human genome sequence. Based on a variety of detection methods, both groups have managed to identify almost 40,000 protein-coding genes. Many features of the DNA sequence and gene distribution over the 24 human chromosomes are also uncovered.

“The world's human genome scientists have undergone an intensely challenging phase of mapping and sequencing. The two reports mark the beginning of another era,” said Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, president of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO). “Their achievement is the result of the hard work of many individuals and funding bodies over more than a decade. However, we are still only scratching the surface of the human genome. There is still plenty of work ahead of us to complete the human DNA sequence and identify all of the genes.”

“The truly daunting task is to understand the function and characteristic of each of our genes, their intricate relationships, and how they work in health and disease states of our body. We also need better technologies to study proteins, tools to handle bioinformatics, and methods to identify the causes of common diseases,” added Professor Tsui, who is geneticist-in-chief at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and a professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto. 

HUGO is an international organization with an international office located in London, UK and regional representation in the Americas, Australia, Europe the Pacific and Russia. HUGO’s mission is to:

  • promote the international discussion on scientific issues and topics crucial to the progress of the world-wide humane genome initiative in order that the analysis of the human genome can be achieved as rapidly and effectively as possible
  • promote the scientific study of the human genome, including the identification and functional analysis of the human genes and encourage free flow if information unconstrained by individual, industrial or national interest.

The Human Genome Project Primer

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Canada
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328