International HapMap Consortium publishes scientific strategy

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 18, 2003 The International HapMap Consortium today published a paper that sets forth the scientific rationale and strategy behind its effort to create a map of human genetic variation. This genetic variation influences our individual predispositions to disease and our responses to medicines. The map is aimed at speeding the searches for genes affecting cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other common conditions.

In the paper published in the journal Nature, the public-private consortium also outlined its policies for the rapid release of HapMap data to researchers around the world. Some of the data are being released quickly and publicly with no conditions, while some data can be accessed quickly by researchers who agree not to restrict the use of the data by other researchers, and to share the data only with those who have agreed to the same conditions.

The $120 million International HapMap Project was launched in October 2002 and is expected to take three years to complete. The project is a partnership of scientists and funding agencies from Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States. The U.S. component of the International HapMap Project is led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal of the consortium is to develop a public resource a map of the common patterns of human genetic variations, or haplotypes that will help researchers find genes associated with human disease and response to medicines. In addition to the current paper detailing the project's scientific strategy, the consortium plans to publish a companion paper describing in more detail how the project is addressing the ethical, social and cultural concerns raised by this type of genomics research.


Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

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