Genetics in Public Health: Implications of Genetic Screening and Counseling in Rural and Culturally Diverse Populations
The Human Genome Project (HGP) began in 1990 under dual administrative responsibility of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy (DoE). This flfteen-year, estimated three-billion-dollar research study is part of a broader international initiative to produce a genetic and physical map of the entire human genome as weil as the genomes of various other biological species. The goals of the human genome studies effort are to locate the estimated flfty to a hundred thousand genes along each somatic and germ cell chromosome, to determine the exact DNA molecular sequence of each gene, and, eventually, to deflne the role of genes in health and disease. The enormity and social impact of this scientiflc endeavor have been likened to the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Moon Project; but attention is quickly drawn to the fact that although the Manhattan and Apollo projects were certainly monumental, their emphasis was not human identity. Some experts have opined that human genome technology will playa role in medicine and society that is analogous to other, now plebeian-technology, such as the X ray machine. The scientiflc pace of the genetic mapping goal is weil ahead of the originally planned first flve-year schedule. Disease-causing gene isolation is expected to proceed at an ever increasing rate. The growth of
more than eleven hundred U.S. biotechnology companies since '970 bears witness to a commercial climate ripe to market new biotechnological products.