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The Human Genome Project

Electron micrograph of chromosomes, condensed DNA that comprises an organism's genome.


By the late 1980s, a fairly large amount of information on the study of genetics had already been compiled. Geneticists have been able to successfully isolate DNA and analyze it through various methods. One method of particular importance was the process of DNA sequencing. Because the genome of all organisms are composed of a sequence of nucleotides (A, T, C, or G), it was realized that one could develop ways of identifying this code through the process of sequencing. When adequate laboratory technology for large-scale sequencing was developed, the public turned its eyes on an ambitious goal: the sequencing of the 2.91 billion base pairs that make up the entire human genome. Even with the advent of modern laboratory sequencing technology, a large project of this scale required much more than just laboratory technology to complete. Computers became absolutely essential to the task of assembling the human genome. This section will cover three main topics: the technology involved in DNA sequencing, the shortcomings of a national project funded by the NIH, and the success of a private organization called Celera in assembling the first draft of the human genome. The story behind the completion of the human genome project best demonstrates the importance of modern computing technology in the field of genetic research, and how many discoveries could not have happened without it.


Copyright 2006 © Biocomputing Admin Ed Yung