Now Is the Time
As chancellor Robert Sinsheimer struggled to convene the first conference on sequencing the entire human genome in all it enormity, he reflected: "The human genome surely would someday be sequenced, once and for all time. The achievement would be a landmark in human history and the knowledge would be the basis for all human biology and medicine of the future. Why not now?"
It's a good question, why not now?
Someday all the species living on earth will be identified, although surely not all the ones alive today. Why not now?
I have focused primarily on the genesis of the Human Genome Project, within its first five years. I have not dealt with the many issues and lessons that came up later, such as patents for genes, or the question of sharing and commercializing public domain information. Indeed there is much I haven't mentioned. I can refer readers eager for more to a great book on the early history of the Human Genome Project called Gene Wars, by Robert Cook-Deegan. There is also a brief seven-page history published earlier this year in the February 16, 2001 special issue of Science on the completion of the project (pp. 1182-1188). I also conducted some interviews of participants via phone for this research. The interpretation of, and comments on, this history are mine and not the All Species Foundation.
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