Shutterstock

When was the Human Genome Project completed?

In 2003, two years ahead of schedule, scientists announced that the human genome had been sequenced with an accuracy of 99.99 per cent. It was described as ‘the end of the beginning’. 

The milestone coincided with the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.

In 2003, it was announced that the Human Genome Project was complete, two years ahead of schedule and considerably under budget! The milestone coincided with the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.

A year later, the publication of the finished ‘gold standard’ sequence appeared in the journal Nature. In the article the authors commented that the Human Genome Project provided “an essential foundation for the sequencing and analysis of additional large genomes”.

The finished sequence revealed a number of surprises.

The finished sequence revealed a number of surprises. Just 10 years before, scientists had believed that humans had about 100,000 genes. However, with the finished’ gold standard’ sequence scientists revealed that there are perhaps only 20,000-25,000 genes in our human genome (today scientists believe it’s just less than 21,000).

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH and one of the leaders during the Human Genome Project.

With the human genome sequence completed, along with the genome sequences of other organisms, such as C. elegans, better computer models and other improved resources, scientists now had a much clearer and more reliable picture of what our genome looks like.

The Human Genome Project has ushered in a new era of healthcare.

It has ushered in a new era of healthcare bringing new approaches to disease diagnosis and drug design. As a result of the project, scientists have discovered more than 800 genetic variations involved in common diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The scientists who worked on the sequence, people like Francis Collins, John Sulston, Eric Lander and Bob Waterston, created a profoundly valuable resource, which others could use to perform science that would otherwise have been inconceivable. They have provided other scientists with an essential tool for genetic research.

This page was last updated on 2016-06-13