This month, our featured Resource is the Archived Site of information from the original Human Genome Project (HGP). The Project, which began in 1990 and ended in 2003 (as does the archive), was the largest collaboration ever for biological research! International researchers worked to identify all human genetic sequences and share information without restriction. The site provides a broad historical and scientific background plus a Gene Gateway to explore genes and genetic disorders.
The home page (http://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/) currently features several topics, including “Explore the Project’s History.” Click “Timeline” to open a detailed list of events in the 13-year history of the HGP and gain a better understanding of their context. Under another topic – “Impacts of the HGP” – you can choose “Spin-Off Projects,” a fascinating collection of links such as: the 1000 Genomes Project, to sequence genomes of at least 1000 people worldwide; or the Human Microbiome Project, to study microbial cells of healthy adults, which outnumber human cells 10-to-1; or the Environmental Genome Project, to learn how disease susceptibility involves genetic and environmental factors.
Clicking on “Site Map,” near the top of the home page, opens a full list of the archived contents. One engaging resource – Human Genome Landmarks – is listed at bottom right. Click to open (http://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/posters/chromosome/index.shtml), the Gene Gateway, where students can explore disorders associated with specific genes. Note the simple array of chromosomes (1–22, X, Y) near the bottom of the page. Click each chromosome for a close-up view of banding patterns and disorders localized to each chromosome region! Or, midway down the Gene Gateway page, you can download a Gene Gateway Workbook geared to high school or college students. Its online activities use screenshots and other materials to explain genetic disorders. The five activities occupy about three hours, with topics ranging from “Mendelian Inheritance in Man,” to “sequence and structure of a gene’s protein product.”
This is truly a “primary source” when it comes to the Human Genome Project! In addition to the resources mentioned above, the site offers information about HGP research by topic; HGP publications; Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI); and HGP-era potential benefits. There’s also something special about exploring a collection of information and documents generated during this history-making research project: offering a perspective on the science of genetics/genomics in years past, and how it now influences so many aspects of our daily lives!
About the Creators:
In the U.S., the Human Genome Project was coordinated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Interestingly, DOE involvement originated with a charge by the U.S. Congress, after use of the atomic bomb, to study and analyze human genome structure, damage, repair, and related issues. Sponsored by the DOE, the archive is in the public domain and is “provided for historical purposes.” Users of the archived materials should credit U.S. DOE and the website: http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis. To cite specific pages, please use this format: [Title of Page], U.S. DOE Human Genome Project, http://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/ (accessed [Date]).