Genome Picked as 2000 'Breakthrough'
AP Science Writer
December 22, 2000; Washington, D.C. (AP) -- "New techniques in the form of better automated sequencers, as well as intense competition between public and private sequencing efforts, drove this acceleration," the journal said. The year saw the climax of a race to sequence the human genome. On one side was an international, government consortium headed by the National Human Genome Research Institute. On the other side was a private company, Celera Genomics of Rockville, MD.
At a White House ceremony in June, presided over by President Clinton, leaders of the public and private efforts made a joint announcement that a rough draft of the human genome had been completed ahead of schedule. "Today ... marks an historic point in the 100,000-year record of humanity," J. Craig Venter, head of Celera, told a White House audience.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the government program, said mapping the human genetic pattern means "we have caught a glimpse of an instruction book previously known only to God." Researchers predicted that the achievement would lead to revolutionary ways to make new drugs and cure disease. The genetic pattern of a worm, a fruit fly, and a plant, all used in laboratory research, have been mapped, along with some five dozen microbes, the journal said. Nearing completion are genome maps for the mouse, rat, zebrafish, and two types of pufferfish.
As the runner-up breakthrough of the year, Science picked advances in understanding the action of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, within the protein factory of the cell, a structure called the ribosome. Science said these studies are showing researchers how proteins are assembled from amino acids within the cells, a key action in biology.
Other breakthroughs, which the journal said were selected "in no particular order," are as follows:
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