Many decades of research and analysis will be required before the information embedded in the human genome is understood in detail. Over time, the causes of more and more human diseases will be understood at the fundemental level of molecules. Such knowledge is likely to revolutionize medicine. New drugs will target the underlying causes of disease. Genetic testing before prescribing drugs will ensure that individuals take drugs that will treat their ailments effectively, without dangerous side effects.
Our understanding of basic biology undoubtedly will grow as well in the wake of the Human Genome Project. Scientists will better understand the essential components of life, how cells and organisms work, and how species evolved on Earth.
The Human Genome Project is likely to affect the course of science and medicine throughout the 21st century. Tension may well grow between scientific advances and people's desire for a simpler way of life. The challenge will be to maintain a healthy balance, to avoid the potential dangers arising from advances in genetics and to put them, instead, to good use. This is, after all, a very old mandate:
The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it. -Thucydides
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Last Reviewed: April 10, 2012