BERKELEY, CA -- The U.S. Department of Energy today (Friday, Oct. 23) announced that its Joint Genome Institute (JGI), an integrated three-laboratory effort to help decipher the human genetic code, surpassed its ambitious goal of sequencing 20 million base pairs for fiscal year 1998.
"This achievement marks an unprecedented ten-fold increase in production output over the previous year," said Martha Krebs, the DOE's Director of the Office of Energy Research. "With this milestone, the JGI rises to the third position worldwide in terms of its total contribution of human DNA sequence to public databases, and signals great promise for completion of the entire project in five years."
The JGI, established in 1996, is a consortium of scientists, engineers and support staff from the Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The JGI has assumed a key role in the international effort to determine all 3 billion base pairs ("letters") that comprise the human genome. This worldwide project, the largest biological undertaking in history, promises untold opportunities to understand the basic molecular underpinnings of life and to improve human health.
"Two years ago today, the DOE Human Genome Program took a bold step forward in forming the JGI, and in so doing took advantage of significant economies of scale," Krebs said. "By combining forces of our three genome centers, DOE has clearly established a solid position among the leaders in this exciting pursuit of the first volume in the human book of life."
"The JGI is well on its way to making an important contribution to the quest to discover all human genes and elucidate their functions," said Dr. Elbert Branscomb, Director of the Joint Genome Institute. "I expect that once we are established in our new facility, we will be generating high-quality DNA sequence information at greatly accelerated rates."