The Human Genome Project: an enabler of science, Eric Lander

Interviewee: Eric Lander. Eric Lander, director of the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research, talks about the mistaken notion of the Human Genome Project as "big science." (DNAi Location: Genome > The Project > Players > Pros & cons > The project: an enabler of science)

The whole notion of the Human Genome Project as 'big science', I think was somewhat misguided. It was based on an analogy to physics, where big science in physics meant that to do the experiment you wanted to do, you had to amass some hundreds of millions of dollars, build some big instruments to do that one experiment. That wasn't what the Human Genome Project was about. The Human Genome Project was about the notion that the thousands of experiments that were going on already were just stunningly inefficient because each and every student was having to sequence their bit of the human genome or get a marker for this or for that, and that if we simply got together and built infrastructure, everybody could use it. So the Human Genome Project was designed as an enabler of small science, that is why it's successful.

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