Enthusiasm ran high for the DOE Human Genome Program (HGP) in response to impressive gains reported at the Seventh DOE Contractor-Grantee meeting in January of this year. Convened every 12 to 18 months, this workshop provides an effective forum for all DOE HGP investigators and invited guests to discuss their research, initiate collaborations, and share new material resources and software capabilities.
Although traditionally held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the 1999 meeting was moved to Oakland, California, so attendees could visit the new Production Sequencing Facility of DOE’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in nearby Walnut Creek. Two years ago, JGI began operations under the direction of Elbert Branscomb to address the challenge of high-throughput sequencing, which remains the major task facing the HGP today.
Investigators representing other HGP- funded projects reported that exciting improvements in mapping and sequencing technologies resulted in higher throughput. New approaches to regulating gene expression are helping to assess whole-cell effects that are key to functional genomics. Attendees also discussed the application of genome sequencing information to real-life problems in medicine and waste cleanup. DOE is continuing activities to educate the general public about the HGP and its societal impact. Researchers in the Microbial Genome Program, a spinoff of HGP, reported impressive gains in whole-genome sequencing and analysis, proteomics, and comparative genomics.