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30th Anniversary of the Human Genome Project

Interviews with genomics leaders

October 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Human Genome Project (HGP). To commemorate this historic milestone, NHGRI’s History of Genomics Program is featuring 30 oral history interviews with prominent genomics experts relevant to the HGP and the broader field of genomics. This collection includes interviews with HGP architects, government officials who managed the HGP and researchers who actively contributed to the HGP’s success. We will feature one oral history per week for 30 consecutive weeks, culminating on Oct. 1, 2020.


Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). Dr. Birney played a key role in the analysis of the human gene set for the Human Genome Project as well as the analysis of the chicken and mouse genomes and several other species. Dr. Birney was a key mind behind the Ensembl genome browser, as well as several other computational tools, such as PairWise and GeneWise. He also has played a key role in the ENCODE Consortium. This oral history covers Birney’s life and education, addressing particularly the influence of Richard Durbin. The interview also covers his entry into the Human Genome Project, his time at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, his interpretation of sundry HGP milestones, and various aspects of the ENCODE Project. Ewan Birney, Ph.D. Deputy Director General of EMBL