The Human Genome Project

2017 in Medicine

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was a large research project that significantly advanced knowledge in genetics and the human genome. The project, launched in 1990, was led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA. It was a collaborative task involving many researchers from 20 institutes in 6 countries (USA, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and China). The project announced its success in 2000. The collected human genetic codes became a mega biological database publicly available for scientists worldwide.

The main mission of the HGP was to decipher human genetic codes. These codes are the core elements that determine biological life. The HGP thus contributed to the better understanding of cellular and organ functions, mutation processes and the mechanisms of diseases. Knowledge of the human genome, including technology used to analyze and interpret genetic codes, facilitated the evolution of medicine in many aspects, from understanding rare hereditary diseases to common illnesses (e.g. cancers, infectious diseases). Screenings for at risk patients and early detection are critical in the control and prevention of the aggravation of diseases. In addition, knowing personal genetic information helps improve drug development that can be tailored to individual patients, so called precision medicine, for highly efficient treatment.

The information provided by the HGP has helped make significant progress in medical science, a branch of science essential to the comprehension of how diseases occur. It has changed the medical paradigm, shifting focus on diagnosis and treatment to the investigation of the causes and identification of the related genetic risks of diseases.

The Prince Mahidol Award (in the Field of Medicine 2017) recognizes the Human Genome Project for its collaborative success that has contributed to the remarkable advancement of medicine to the enormous benefit of mankind.