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NHGRI History of Genomics Program

Illustrative collage of archived documents and photosLaunched in 2012, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program aims to collect and organize historic materials related to the field of genomics and NHGRI as an organization.

Efforts include digitization of relevant assets and database development, generation of oral histories chronicling the experiences of genomics leaders and NHGRI staff, production of scholarly work related to major genomics accomplishments, and expansion of the general knowledge about the history of genomics among the scholarly community and the general public.NHGRI History of Genomics Program: Digitization, Curation, Database, Oral Histories, Scholarly Work, Outreach Collaboration

Key elements of the NHGRI History of Genomics Program include:

  • Digitization of Documents and Assimilation of Digital Multimedia Assets - Ongoing efforts digitize existing institute documents and assimilate other digital materials (e.g., video recordings, audio recordings, and photographs) related to major genomics programs (e.g., the Human Genome Project) and historically important NHGRI endeavors.
  • Curation of Materials - The Institute's digitized assets are being archived, catalogued, and summarized, creating the substrate for a valuable historic resource.
  • Digital Database - NHGRI is developing a database to warehouse digital assets. The database will contain organized documents with metadata and a search feature for ease of browsing. To receive more information about gaining access to the database, please send an email to
  • Oral History Collection - Oral histories capturing the perspectives and experiences of those involved in major genomics programs and other NHGRI endeavors are being generated. The oral histories involve interviews with both NHGRI staff and leaders from the wider genomics research community.
  • Scholarly Work - Scholarly descriptions and analyses of the major genomics programs and other NHGRI endeavors strive to draw upon the knowledge of institute staff and external genomics experts, while also capturing the expertise of professional historians.
    • A monograph-length study on the history of NHGRI human genomic variation programs-from the Haplotype Map (HapMap) Project to the recently completed 1000 Genomes Project-has been developed.
    • A special issue of the Journal of the History of Biology on the historical legacy of the Human Genome Project and genomics is planned for publication in early 2017.
  • Outreach and Collaboration - NHGRI seeks to collaborate with scholars interested in the history of genomics. Efforts to foster such interactions include meetings and seminars, as well as collaborations on specific research areas of interest.
    • Emerging out of the 2015 Capturing the History of Genomics workshop, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program hosted the "NHGRI History of Molecular Biology an Genomics Lecture Series" to bring in talented and well-known historians, sociologiests and philosophers with the goals of increasing the understanding of genomics in the scholarly community and presenting contemporary research of immediate interest to NHGRI staff.
    • In April 2015, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program hosted a "Capturing the History of Genomics" workshopPDF fileto gather input and foster collaborations with representatives of the outside scholarly community. Historians, philosophers, sociologists, and bioethicists made presentations on topics that included the history of the Human Genome Project, human genomic variation research, genomic data sharing, and development of bioinformatics databases.
    • To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Human Genome Project, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program will host a seminar series that features Human Genome Project participants who will share their perspectives about the Project and how it affected their careers. The seminar series, "A Quarter Century after the Human Genome Project's Launch: Lessons beyond the Base Pairs", runs from December 2015 through May 2016.

NHGRI History of Genomics Program Staff

Christopher Donohue, Ph.D.

Jeremy Johnston

Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.
Scientific Liaison to the NHGRI Director for Extramural Activities

Edson Mendonca
Database Project Manager, Information Technology Branch

Chris Wellington
Extramural Program Director, Genome Informatics and Computational Biology


National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
31 Center Dr., Bldg. 31, Rm. 4B09
Bethesda, MD 20892-2152
Phone: (301) 496-0844
Fax: (301) 402-0837

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Last Updated: October 28, 2016