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The History of HUGO

The Human Genome Organisation
History, Purposes and Membership – Dr. Victor A. McKusick, 1989, Genomics

The Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) was conceived in late April 1988, at the first meeting on genome mapping and sequencing at Cold Spring Harbor. For some time, as the genome initiatives got under way in individual nations, the need for an international coordinating scientific body had been under discussion. The idea of HUGO was particularly Sydney Brenner's. He also suggested the name of the organization and its rather felicitous acronym.

At a rump session called to discuss the proposal at Cold Spring Harbor on April 30, 1988, Victor McKusick (Baltimore) was asked to serve as founding president. A Founding Council was assembled from among those at the Cold Spring Harbor meeting, supplemented by others, to a total of 42 scientists from 17 countries. In early September 1988, 31 of these scientists met in Montreux, Switzerland, at a hotel within sight of the historic Chateau de Chillon. (FIG 2) The members of the Founding Council are indicated by an asterisk in the list of HUGO members at the end. The officers elected at Montreux were as follows: Victor A. McKusick, President; Walter Bodmer, Jean Dausset, and Kenichi Matsubara, Vice-Presidents; John Tooze, Secretary; Walter Gilbert, Treasurer (resigned February, 15, 1989); and Charles Cantor, Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, Leroy Hood, Lennart Philipson, and Frank Ruddle, Elected Members to Executive Committee.

The Founding Council of HUGO, in Montreux, September 7, 1988 (11 members were absent). First row: Matsubara, Shows, Tocchini-Valentini, Honjo, Shimizu, McKusick, Lyon, Gilbert, Cantor, Robson, Karpov (observer). Second row: Hirt, Ruddle, Collins, Zinder, Sutherland, Cavenee, Hinton (staff), Tooze, Hood, Frézal, Cahill, Ferguson-Smith. Third row: Pearson, Dulbecco, Philipson, Jacob, Mirzabekov, Goodfellow (observer), Dausset, Watson, Worton, Southern, Strayer (staff), Grzeschik.

HUGO is incorporated in Geneva, Switzerland. As stated in its Articles of Association, "membership of HUGO shall be open to all persons concerned with the human genome or other scientific subjects related to it." It was decided in Montreux to follow an academy model, i.e., to have a limited and elected membership. In elections conducted by mail during the 5 months after Montreux, 178 additional members of HUGO were chosen, bringing the total to 220. As indicated in Table 1, the members are drawn from 23 countries. The full membership list is given at the end of this article.

Australia 2 Austria 1 Belgium 2 Canada 11
Denmark 2 East Germany 1 Finland 1 France 15
Greece 1 Israel 2 Iceland 1 Italy 2
Japan 11 Norway 2 South Africa 1 Spain 1
Sweden 3 Switzerland 4 The Netherlands 7 United Kingdom 33
U.S.A. 103 USSR 5 West Germany 9 Total 220

Chateau de Chillon,
Site of Lord Byron's romantic poem "The Prisoner of Chillon"

In the words of Norton Zinder, a member of the Founding Council, HUGO is a "U.N. for the human genome." As stated-in the Articles and Bylaws, its purposes are as follows:

  • to assist with the coordination of research on the human genome and in particular to foster collaboration between scientists with a view to avoiding unnecessary competition or duplication of effort, and to coordinate this research with parallel studies in model organisms;
  • to coordinate and to facilitate the exchange of data and biomaterials relevant to human genome research and through a training program, encourage the spreading of the related technologies;
  • to encourage public debate and provide information and advice on the scientific, ethical, social, legal, and commercial implications of human genome projects.

The coordinating functions of HUGO have three dimensions: international, interdisciplinary, and interspecies. The coordination among nations has its counterparts in the coordination desirable among scientists working on genetic mapping and those working on physical mapping and sequencing and among scientists working on the genomes of various model organisms. Thus far, standing committees on physical mapping, databases, and the mouse genome have been set up. By mutual agreement of the executive committees of HUGO and the Human Gene Mapping Workshops (HGMW), HGMW is to become a component of HUGO.

For the conduct of the business of HUGO, three regional offices are being established. The North American office is located in Bethesda, Maryland; the European office in London, UK; and the Pacific office in Osaka, Japan.

To this point, financing of HUGO has come from several nongovernmental foundations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, and the Wesley Foundation. Multinational governmental funding for HUGO is now being sought.

Genomics 5, 385-387 (1989), reproduced by permission of the author

HUGO Membership (of early 1989)
Those in bold and marked with a * are members of the founding council

Bruce M. Alberts, U.S.A. Walter Gehring, Switzerland David Patterson, U.S.A.
Stylianos E. Antonarakis, USA Richard Gelinas, U.S.A. Mark L. Pearson, U.S.A.
Norman Arnheim, U.S.A. Georgy P. Georgiev, USSR Peter L. Pearson,* TheNetherlands
Michael Ashburner, UK Raymond F. Gesteland, U.S.A. Ulf Pettersson,* Sweden
Philip Avner, France Walter Gilbert,* U.S.A. Lennart Philipson,* West Germany
Richard Axel, U.S.A. Walter Goad, U.S.A. Richard Roberts, U.S.A.
Francisco J. Ayala, U.S.A. Joseph L. Goldstein, U.S.A. Elizabeth B. Robson,* UK
David Baltimore, U.S.A. Peter N. Goodfellow, UK Thomas H. Roderick, U.S.A.
Bart G. Barrell, UK Yoram Groner, Israel Giovanni Romeo, Italy
Alexander A. Bayev, USSR François Gros, France Hans-Hilger Ropers, The Netherlands
Arthur L. Beaudet, U.S.A. Frank Grosveld, UK Leon E. Rosenberg, U.S.A.
Paul Berg, U.S.A. Karl-Heinz Grzeschik,* West Germany Janet D. Rowley, U.S.A.
Kare Berg, Norway James F. Gusella, U.S.A. Frank H. Ruddle,* U.S.A.
Georgio Bernardi, France John L. Hamerton, Canada Yoshiyuki Sakaki, Japan
Adrian Bird, Austria Nicholas Hastie, UK Joseph Sambrook, U.S.A.
Frederick R. Blattner, USA Michael Hayden, Canada Frederick Sanger, UK (Declined)
Walter Bodmer,* UK Bernhard Hirt,* Switzerland David Schlessinger, U.S.A.
Lars Bolund, Denmark Tasuku Honjo,* Japan Charles R. Scriver, Canada
Piet Boorst,* The Netherlands Leroy E. Hood,* U.S.A. Peter Seeburg, West Germany
Dirk Bootsma, The Netherlands David E. Housman, U.S.A. Susan W. Serjeantson, Australia
David Botstein, U.S.A. Peter Humphries, Ireland Nobuyoshi Shimizu.* Japan
Sydney Brenner,* UK Michael Hunkapiller, U.S.A. Thomas B. Shows,* U.S.A.
Roy J. Britten, U.S.A. Yoji Ikawa, Japan Louis Siminovitch, Canada
Michael S. Brown, U.S.A. Francois Jacob,* France Maxine F. Singer, U.S.A.
William R.A. Brown, UK Alec J. Jeffreys, UK Marcello Siniscalco, U.S.A.
W. Ted Brown, U.S.A. Nancy A. Jenkins,* U.S.A Robert L. Sinsheimer, U.S.A.
George Brownlee, UK Trefor Jenkins, South Africa Mark H. Skolnick, U.S.A.
Gail A.P. Bruns, U.S.A. Bertrand Jordan, France Cassandra Smith, U.S.A.
George F. Cahill, Jr.,* USA Fotis C. Kafatos,* Greece Cedric A. B. Smith, UK
Graham Cameron, West Germany Y. W. Kan, U.S.A. Oliver Smithies, U.S.A.
Howard M. Cann, France Minoru Kanehisa, Japan Ellen Solomon, UK
Charles R. Cantor,* U.S.A. Haig H. Kazazian, Jr., U.S.A Edwin M. Southern,* UK
Mario Capecchi, U.S.A. Bronya J.B. Keats, U.S.A. Robert S. Sparkes, U.S.A.
Anthony V. Carrano, U.S.A. Kenneth R. Kidd, U.S.A. Michael Steinmetz, Switzerland
C. Thomas Caskey,* U.S.A. Lev L. Kisselev, USSR John Sulston, UK
Bruce Cattanach, UK George Klein,* Sweden Grant R. Sutherland,* Australia
Luca Cavalli-Sforza, U.S.A Yuji Kohara, UK Eugene D. Sverdlov, USSR
Webster K. Cavenee,* Canada Raju S. Kucherlapati, U.S.A. Glenys Thomson, U.S.A.
Howard Cedar, Israel Louis M. Kunkel, U.S.A. Shirley Tilghman, U.S.A.
Pierre Chambon,* France Peter A. Lalley, U.S.A. Glauco Tocchini-Valentini,* Italy
Verne M. Chapman, U.S.A. Jean-Marc Lalouel, U.S.A. Susumu Tonegawa, U.S.A.
George Church, U.S.A. Eric Lander, U.S.A. John Tooze,* West Germany
Daniel Cohen, France Mark Lathrop, France Lap-Chee Tsui, Canada
Francis S. Collins,* U.S.A David H. Ledbetter, U.S.A. Christopher Tyler-Smith, UK
John Collins, West Germany Philip Leder, U.S.A. Nguyen Van Cong, France
P. Michael Conneally, U.S.A Hans Lehrach, UK Herman van den Berghe, Belgium
Howard J. Cooke, UK Leonard S. Lerman, U.S.A. Alex van der Eb, The Netherlands
Andrew Coulson, UK Peter Little, UK Marvin van Dilla, U.S.A.
Charles Coutelle, East Germany Mary Lyon,* UK Gert Jan van Ommen, The Netherlands
David R. Cox, U.S.A. Jacob V. Maizel, U.S.A. Akiyoshi Wada, Japan
Diane W. Cox, Canada Jean-Louis Mandel, France Douglas C. Wallace, U.S.A.
Ian Craig, UK Tom Maniatis, U.S.A. Dorothy Warburton, U.S.A.
Jean Dausset,* France Kenichi Matsubara,* Japan John J. Wasmuth, U.S.A.
Kay E. Davies, UK Allan M. Maxam, U.S.A. James D. Watson,* U.S.A.
Ronald W. Davis, U.S.A. Phyllis J. McAlpine, Canada David Weatherall,* UK
Muriel Davisson, U.S.A. Victor A. McKusick,* U.S.A. Robert A. Weinberg, U.S.A.
Larry L. Deaven, U.S.A. P. Meera Kahn, The Netherlands Jean Weissenbach, France
Albert de la Chapelle, Finland 0. J. Miller, U.S.A. Sherman M. Weissman, U.S.A.
Helen Donis-Keller, U.S.A. Andrei D. Mirzabekov,* USSR Charles Weissmann, Switzerland
Ford Doolittle, Canada Felix Mitelman, Sweden Nancy Wexler, U.S.A.
Russell Doolittle, U.S.A. Jan Mohr, Denmark Raymond L. White, U.S.A.
Renato Dulbecco,* U.S.A. Newton Morton, UK Michael Wigler, U.S.A.
John H. Edwards, UK Robert Moyzis, U.S.A. Huntington F. Willard, Canada
Argiris Efstratiadis, U.S.A. Daniel Nathans, U.S.A. Robert T. Williamson, UK
H. John Evans, UK Susumu Nishimura, Japan Allan C. Wilson, U.S.A.
Marc Fellous, France S. Numa, Japan Ernst L. Winnacker, West Germany
Malcolm A. Ferguson-Smith,* UK Robert L. Nussbaum, U.S.A. Savio L. C. Woo, U.S.A.
Walter Fiers, Belgium Stephen J. O'Brien, U.S.A. Ronald G. Worton,* Canada
Uta Francke, U.S.A. Michio Oishi, Japan Mitsuaki Yoshida, Japan
Jean Frézal,* France Maynard Olson, U.S.A. Hans G. Zachau, West Germany
Theodore Friedmann, U.S.A. Stuart H. Orkin, U.S.A. Norton D. Zinder,* U.S.A.
Anna-Marie Frischauf, UK Jürg Ott, U.S.A. Harald zur Hausen,* West Germany
Antonio Garcia-Bellido, Spain David C. Page, U.S.A. Tobias Gedde-Dahl, Jr., Norway
Mary Lou Pardue, U.S.A.    


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