NIH Press Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Library of Medicine

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 24, 1996
4:00 PM Eastern Time

Bob Mehnert
mehnert@nlm.nih.gov
Kathy Gardner
kcravedi@nlm.nih.gov
(301) 496-6308

"Human Gene Map" to be Launched on World Wide Web
International Project to Greatly Accelerate
Research and Expand Public Understanding of Genetic Disease

Calling the "Human Gene Map" "a landmark in biology that will help unlock the mysteries of disease," Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, today announced that the map will be published in the October 25th issue of Science. The map will be launched on the Internet in a press demonstration and briefing to be held Thursday, October 24, 1996, at 1:00 p.m. in the Lister Hill Auditorium, Lister Hill Center (Building 38-A, off Center Drive), National Institutes of Health, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland. Lindberg noted, "This map represents the most extensive effort so far to locate and identify the 80,000 genes in the human genome -- the full set of genetic instructions inside a human cell."

"A map of this detail gives disease-gene hunters who have narrowed their search to a specific region on a chromosome about a 1 in 5 chance that the gene they are looking for has already been characterized by this effort," said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH's National Center for Human Genome Research, which has funded two of the largest contributors -- Stanford and Whitehead Institute/MIT. "This gene-hunting strategy has already been used successfully to locate and isolate genes responsible for Alzheimer's disease and inherited colon cancer, and can now be greatly expanded," Dr. Collins noted.

"The human gene map will speed the discovery of genes contributing to common diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis and psychiatric disorders," said Dr. David Lipman, Director of the Library's National Center for Biotechnology Information, which coordinated the project. "Once identified, treatments, diagnostics, and cures can be developed," Lipman said.

"At the same time, the map will provide the public with a continuously updated window of progress as mapping of the human genome unfolds," Dr. Lipman added. "The 'gene map' takes a complex subject out of the research lab and makes it understandable in our nation's classrooms, and in the homes of Internet users wherever they reside," he continued. "Students will be able to visualize where genes responsible for disease reside on their 23 pairs of chromosomes. Such a widely accessible means of educating the public about genetics and the role of genes in disease is essential if the American public is to benefit fully from the health care advances in genetics."

Dr. Greg Schuler and Dr. Mark Boguski, both NCBI researchers and two of the principal authors of the Science article on the gene map, pointed out that the map's creation was an international collaboration on an extraordinary scale. "104 authors on 3 continents were involved in the production of the Science article," explained Dr. Boguski. "The project received financial support from a diverse group of sponsors which included public funding agencies in the United States, Canada, France, England, and Japan, a private foundation and a pharmaceutical company," he continued.

Dr. Schuler observed, "The gene map will also be of enormous benefit to pharmaceutical companies and small biotechnology firms developing new drugs. It represents a model for cooperative research and development projects between the Federal government and private industry."

The URL for the new WWW site is http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/science96/. The site will be activated at 4:00 PM Eastern Time, October 24, 1996.

Principal investigators on the Gene map project include:

Dr. Eric Lander
(617) 252-1906
Dr. Tom Hudson (in Canada)
(514) 937-6011 x2456
Whitehead/MIT
Center for Genome Research
9 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142

Dr. Jean Weissenbach
+33-1-6947-2862
Dr. Jacqui Beckmann
+33-1-6947-2938
Genethon, CNRS URA 1922
1 rue de l'Internationale
91000 Evry
FRANCE

Dr. David Bentley
drb@sanger.ac.uk
The Sanger Center
Hinxton Hall
Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA
UK

Dr. David Cox
(415) 725-8042
Stanford Genome Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California 94305

Dr. Michael James
+44-1-865-740-015
Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics
Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine
University of Oxford
Windmill Road, Oxford OX3 7BN
UK

B-roll will be available for stations on Thursday, October 24 from 1:30 - 2:00 p.m., EST Satellite Feed Coordinates: Galaxy C, 4/Transponder 9