1999 Release: Working Draft of Human Genome

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium Backs Rapid Construction of a Working Draft and Stands Firm on Public Access

Following a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this week, leaders of the international human genome sequencing consortium reaffirmed their commitment to providing free, immediate and unrestricted access to human sequencing data, and defined powerful new ways to coordinate the worldwide effort to sequence the human genome.

May 1999

Leaders in human genome sequencing from France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States met on May 19 in Cold Spring Harbor after a tumultuous year of rapidly advancing progress. They reaffirmed the vigorous spirit of international cooperation, underlined the benefit for centers in all countries with significant capacity to participate, and defined new and powerful ways of coordinating the public effort amongst participating centers. The group strongly reconfirmed its commitment to place all sequence data in the public domain immediately and deplored the trend towards treating human genome sequence as a commodity.

The centers documented their substantial combined sequencing capacity, and agreed that the achievement of a working draft of the human genome sequence, covering at least 90 percent of the genome at a depth of roughly five-fold, could be accomplished by the spring of 2000. The centers and funding agencies also reconfirmed their commitment to subsequently utilize this working draft to produce a highly accurate final sequence no later than 2003.

The consortium strongly reaffirmed the policy, originally adopted in 1996, that all human genome sequence should be placed in publicly accessible databases within 24 hours of the time that an assembly of 1000 to 2000 base pairs is obtained. Large-scale genome sequence data is a critically important research tool for the entire scientific community, and the international sequencing consortium believes that the public is best served if such data is immediately and freely available, without patents, licenses, subscription fees or limitations on use.

Significant human sequencing efforts have been underway in several countries since 1995, and the international sequencing community has met yearly since 1996 to coordinate the critically important task of reading the human instruction book. The worldwide public effort has already produced sequence covering 17 percent of the human genome, with 10 percent in completed form and another 7 percent in near-final draft. While much of the public effort in sequencing production is located in the United States and the United Kingdom, significant capacity exists at Genoscope in France, at centers in Jena, Braunschweig, and Berlin in Germany, and at two centers in Tokyo, Japan. The estimated combined capacity of all the centers over the next 12 months is more than enough to produce the recommended working draft on schedule.

Attendees agreed that the project should continue to be based on the sequencing of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) with known map position, as that is a proven strategy. Several powerful tools have recently been developed to assist this effort and a central BAC registry has now been set up by the National Center for Biotechnology Information which will keep track of which BACs are being sequenced in each center, avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. Each center will have a particular region of interest; no areas of the human genome are left unassigned. All centers agreed that close monitoring of progress will be needed over the coming year through a series of quarterly meetings, and that some readjustments in assignments may have to be made to be certain that the project is accomplished on time.

ATTENDEES AT THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL STRATEGY MEETING ON HUMAN GENOME SEQUENCING COLD SPRING HARBOR, NEW YORK - MAY 19, 1999

Dr. David Bentley, The Sanger Centre, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Helmut Bloecker, Gesellshaft fur Biotechnologische, Braunschweig, Germany
Dr. Elbert Branscomb, Joint Genome Institute, Dept. of Energy, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Mr. Graham Cameron, The European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Celia Caulcott, The Wellcome Trust, London, UK
Dr. Francis Collins, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. David Cox, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Dr. Pieter de Jong, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA
Dr. Richard Durbin, The Sanger Centre, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Adam Felsenfeld, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. Marvin Frazier, Dept. of Energy, Germantown, MD, USA
Dr. Richard Gibbs, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
Dr. Eric Green, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. Mark Guyer, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. Trevor Hawkins, Joint Genome Institute, Dept. of Energy, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Dr. Ursula Hurtenbach, BMBF, Bonn, Germany
Dr. Eric Lander, Whitehead Institute/MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA
Dr. Lauren Linton, Whitehead Institute/MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA
Dr. Anup Madan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Dr. Marco Marra, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
Dr. Richard McCombie, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, USA
Dr. John McPherson, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
Dr. Michael Morgan, The Wellcome Trust, London, UK
Dr. Richard Myers, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Dr. Maynard Olson, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Dr. Ari Patrinos, Dept. of Energy, Germantown, MD, USA
Dr. Jane Peterson, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. Juliane Ramser, Max-Planck-Institut fur Moleculare Genetik, Berlin, Germany
Dr. Bruce Roe, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA
Dr. Jane Rogers, The Sanger Centre, Cambridge, UK
Dr. Andre Rosenthal, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Jena, Germany
Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakaki, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Dr. Nobuyoshi Shimizu, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
Mrs. Jilly Steward, The Wellcome Trust, London, UK
Dr. James Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, USA
Dr. Jean Weissenbach, Genoscope, Evry, France
Dr. Richard Wilson, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

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Last Reviewed: September 2006