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Begun formally in 1990, the Human Genome Project (HGP) was a 13-year effort.

The project originally was planned to last 15 years, but rapid technological advances accelerated the completion date to 2003.

It was an international scientific research project with the primary goal of determining the sequence of the genes that make up human DNA, and identifying and map the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint.


  1. Identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA,
  2. Determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA,
  3. Store this information in databases,
  4. Improve tools for data analysis,
  5. Transfer related technologies to the private sector,          and
  6. Address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.

The participating countries were US, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan and China.

The sequence of the human DNA is stored in databases available to anyone on the Internet.

The U.S. National Centre for Biotechnology Information (and sister organizations in Europe and Japan) house the gene sequence in a database known as GenBank, along with sequences of known and hypothetical genes and proteins.

Computer programs have been developed to analyze the data, because the data itself is difficult to interpret without such programs.


The genome is the entirety of an organism’s hereditary information that is encoded in DNA.

The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA. Genes carry information for making all the proteins required by all organisms.

These proteins determine how the organism looks, how well its body metabolizes food or fights infection, and how it behaves.

DNA is made up of four similar chemicals (called bases and abbreviated A, T, C, and G) that are repeated millions or billions of times throughout a genome.

The human genome, for example, has 3 billion pairs of bases. The particular order of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs is extremely important.

The order underlies all of life’s diversity, even dictating whether an organism is human or another species such as yeast, rice, or fruit fly, all of which have their own genomes and are themselves the focus of genome projects.

Because all organisms are related through similarities in DNA sequences, insights gained from non-human genomes often lead to new knowledge about human biology.

Knowledge of the effects of variation of DNA among individuals can revolutionize the ways to diagnose, treat and even prevent a number of diseases that affects the human beings.

Besides providing clues to understanding human biology, learning about nonhuman organisms’ DNA sequences can lead to an understanding of their natural capabilities that can be applied toward solving challenges in health care, agriculture, energy production, environmental remediation, and carbon sequestration.


  1. The Human Genome Project was started with the goal of sequencing and identifying all three billion chemical units in the human genetic instruction set, finding the genetic roots of disease and then developing treatments. In April 2003, the sequencing of the human genome was successfully completed by Human Genome Project, which sequenced about 99 % of the human genome’s gene-containing regions, and it has been sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99 % of the 3 billion DNA letters in the human genome.
  2. With the sequence in hand, the next step is to identify the genetic variants that increase the risk for common diseases like cancer and diabetes. The work on interpretation of genome data is still in its initial stages. It is anticipated that detailed knowledge of the human genome will provide new avenues for advances in medicine and biotechnology.
  3. Deeper understanding of the disease processes at the level of molecular biology may determine new therapeutic procedures. Given the established importance of DNA in molecular biology and its central role in determining the fundamental operation of cellular processes, it is likely that expanded knowledge in this area will facilitate medical advances in numerous areas of clinical interest that may not have been possible without them.
  4. Many questions about the similarities and differences between humans and our closest relatives (the primates, and indeed the other mammals) are expected to be illuminated by the data from this project.
  5. There are benefits for biological scientists. For example, a researcher investigating a certain form of cancer may have narrowed down his/her search to a particular gene. By visiting the human genome database on the World Wide Web, this researcher can find out more data about this particular gene and its properties.
  6. In the post Human Genome Sequencing era, there is an increased expectation in the masses to get improved and faster diagnosis related to genetic defects leading to occurrence of diseases.
  7. Harnessing the enormous amount of genetic variability available in different populations would accelerate identification of predictive and predisposition markers for common and complex diseases genes as well as individual responsiveness to medications and different environments.


Some current and potential applications of genome research include:

  1. Medicine
  2. Evolutionary biology and anthropology
  3. Energy and environmental applications
  4. DNA forensics
  5. Agriculture
  6. Medicine:

v   Improved diagnosis of disease and earlier detection of genetic predispositions to disease.

v   Rational drug design

v   Gene therapy

v   Assess health damage and risks caused by radiation exposure, exposure to mutagenic chemicals and cancer-causing toxins.

v   Reduce the likelihood of heritable mutations.

  1. Evolutionary biology and anthropology:

v   Study of evolution

v   Study of migration of different human population groups

  1. Energy and Environmental Applications:

v   Creating new energy sources (biofuels).

v   Use microbial genomics to develop environmental monitoring techniques to detect pollutants, safe and efficient environmental remediation, and carbon sequestration.

v   Detect bacteria and other organisms that may pollute air, water, soil, and food.

  1. DNA Forensics:

v   Identify potential suspects whose DNA may match evidence left at crime scenes

v   Exonerate persons wrongly accused of crimes

v   Identify crime and catastrophe victims

v   Match organ donors with recipients in transplant programs

  1. Agriculture:

v   Development of productive, and disease, insect and drought-resistant crops (GM crops)

v   Developing healthier, more productive, disease-resistant farm animals (Transgenics)

v   Foods with higher nutritional content (GM foods)


In December 2009, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) completed the first ever Human Genome Sequencing in India. Scientists of CSIR at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi have sequenced the Human Genome of an anonymous healthy Indian citizen.

India could not be a part of the Human Genome Project as in the early nineties it lacked the necessary resources. With the completion of the first human genome sequence in India, the nation is now in the league of select few countries like United States, China, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Korea who have demonstrated the capability to sequence and assemble complete human genomes.

While the first Human Genome Sequence effort took more than a decade spending over a billion US dollars, CSIR scientists at IGIB finished the complete sequencing and assembly in much shorter time comparable with similar recent effort the world over. The IGIB scientists were able to achieve the feat within 10 weeks, from September 25 to December 4, 2009. CSIR could achieve this by adopting new technologies and by effectively integrating complex computational tools with high throughput analytical capabilities. It was made possible with the CSIR supercomputing facility at IGIB.

The sequencing of the first Human Genome in India in conjunction with Indian Genome variation programme opens newer vistas for low-cost affordable healthcare and predictive medicine in future for the masses This also opens up newer possibilities in disease diagnostics, treatment and sustaining low-cost drugs in the market. It would help understand several diseases that were of importance to India and other developing countries. The effort would also add to global knowledge on genetic variations and pre-disposition to various diseases.

The CSIR had successfully completed the genetic diversity of the Indian population. It had also completed the genome sequence of a fish variety, called Zebrafish, popularly used by the scientific community as an organism for modelling human diseases.

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