J. Craig Venter shares in Scientific American his experience mapping the human genome and his frustrations with how little progress we’ve made in putting it to use 20 years later.
On June 26, 2000 in the East Room of the White House I stood at the podium and announced the sequencing of the human genome, a project accomplished by the relatively small team at my company in only nine months.
We started a new company called Celera Genomics with the goal of sequencing the first human genome in three years or less. The company’s tagline was “Speed Matters, Discovery Can’t Wait.” This announcement was not met with open arms by the NIH-led sequencing community who said Celera’s sequencing plans would end up with the “swiss cheese,” “CliffsNotes,” “Reader’s Digest” or even “Mad Magazine” version of the genome. I guess I can understand why they were not thrilled to have a newcomer to the game and thus began what the press dubbed a race to sequencing the human genome pitting Celera against the NIH and international genome effort.
Many thought that just by sequencing large numbers of genomes that understanding and new knowledge would fall into place. While that has helped with ancestry tracing and genome variation, there is still so much for us to learn and understand about how the genome codes for us humans.
Read more in Scientific American.