Great genetic findings--giving credit

Yesterday, I spent some time viewing a video on the most important advances in genetics. You can see the video by clicking on the link in yesterday's blog. It's fun to watch and very informative.

There were only two things that bothered me: as the film progressed the link between face and sound became less and less accurate. By the time the film ended, Bill Nye was still moving his mouth, but the sound had long since finished. Anyway.

The second item, and the one I commented upon to the website was apparently giving all the genome-mapping kudos to Craig Ventner. The project was so much broader than that! At the very least, the Department of Energy contributions--they're the ones keeping the project going--should have been mentioned. In case you wonder why the Department of Energy (I did), it's because our government has no biological agency, except per haps the National Institutes of Health. So, DOE --and us of course--supplied a big part of the necessary money for mapping the entire genome.

But, even that view is too restricted. This morning, an article from Wales reminded me that the whole world contributed to the project--if not with money and expertise, with donations of DNA.

Because it has the unique characteristic of being both global in its provenance and delivery and intensely personal in its implications, the Human Genome Project heralds a new global approach to science and technology and a new relationship between science and society.

The project was completed through the work of teams across the globe comprising 520 scientists divided more or less equally between the public and the private sectors.

In the public sector a consortium of 20 groups involving 48 laboratories in the UK, US, France, Germany, Japan and China each made a contribution.

The private sector was represented by Celera Genomics, a US corporation.

A total of $US3.668bn was spent by the public sector consortium between 1998 and 2000. In the UK, the Wellcome Trust contributed $286m of this. With this level of support the UK Sanger Centre was able to sequence a third of the total genome and make a contribution second only to that of the United States.

This, according to an article from the national website of Wales.

So, why do I debate Ventner's contribution? Guess who's DNA made up most of the DNA sequenced by Ventner's group: Craig Ventner's. Guess whose dog has its DNA sequenced: Ventner's. This guy sounds to me like some other person who's often in the limelight. Filled with self-importance, and he doesn't even have a high government post.

Well, enough ranting for a Monday. Enjoy the film and have a good day.

Marie Godfrey, PhD


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