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December 15, 1989

Technology, Cost, Cooperation, Ethics Challenges Face Genome Mapping Plan

JAMA. 1989;262(23):3247. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430230017003

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WHILE SEQUENCING the entire human genome is now a firmly established national objective, a number of major hurdles face the program before it can move into high gear. These include the following:

  • Developing technology to enable the project to go forward at reasonable cost.

  • Encouraging other nations to contribute to the estimated total $3 billion bill.

  • Considering ethical and legal implications that will flow from the results of the project.

These are among the challenges outlined at a congressional hearing on human genome—mapping plans. The hearing was called by Sen Albert Gore (D, Tenn), chair of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, which is responsible for keeping an eye on the project.

Witnesses included James D. Watson, PhD, and Robert W. Wood, PhD. Watson is director of the National Center for Human Genome Research at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Wood is an associate director of Health