Our Better Understanding of Disease Has Vindicated the Human Genome Project
Now we’re starting to see how genome research is fulfilling the promise of why we pursued the Human Genome Project in the first place.
Dr. Green is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the federal agency that funds and conducts medical research. The NIH Intramural Sequencing Center is a lab that Dr. Green founded and which is part of the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Prior to this appointment, he was the Scientific Director of NHGRI, a position he held since 2002. In addition, Green serves as chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (since 1996) and director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (NISC) (since 1997).
In the 1980s when the Human Genome Project was being conceived, one of the reasons why we were able to get support for it from the U.S. Congress while other countries were able to get support for it from their funding agencies was the recognition that having foundational information about our blueprint would give us the kinds of insights and eventually the kinds of information and technologies that would allow us to better understand the role of DNA or the role of our genome in human health and disease.
We already knew back then that essentially every disease has at least a genetic influence if not an overt genetic cause. And we wanted to understand how those DNA differences were important in different types of disease.
It just made a lot of sense to get foundational reference information about our genome and use that as a starting point to going through and studying many different diseases and figuring out which DNA changes correlate with getting that particular disease. Now we’re starting to see some of this come to fruition and it truly is fulfilling the promise of why we pursued the Human Genome Project in the first place.
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