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ENCODE Project Background

In April 2003, the finished sequence of the human genome was announced by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (Finishing the euchromatic sequence of the human genome October 21, 2004, Nature). Although this was a significant achievement, much remains to be done. Before the best use of the information contained in the sequence can be made, the identity and precise location of all of the protein-encoding and non-protein-encoding genes in the human genome will have to be determined, as will the identities and locations of other functional elements including promoters and other transcriptional regulatory sequences and determinants of chromosome structure and function, such as origins of replication. To date, much remains unknown about these functional elements in the human genome. A comprehensive encyclopedia of all of these features is needed to fully utilize the sequence to better understand human biology, to predict potential disease risks, and to stimulate the development of new therapies to prevent and treat these diseases.

To encourage discussion and comparison of existing computational and experimental approaches to annotating the human genome, and to stimulate the development of new ones, the NHGRI proposed to create a highly interactive public research consortium to carry out a pilot project for testing and comparing existing and new methods to identify functional sequences in DNA.

On July 23-24, 2002, the NHGRI organized a workshop, the Comprehensive Extraction of Biological Information from Genomic Sequence, to discuss this proposal. The workshop participants resoundingly supported the concept of a pilot project and made a number of recommendations about the project's goals, organization and implementation, which have now been incorporated into NHGRI's plan.

On March 7, 2003, the NHGRI held a meeting to officially launch the ENCODE Pilot Project Research Consortium and to provide information to potential applications for two RFAs being released. View the meeting webcast Flash file.

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Last updated: May 21, 2012