Human genome

Human genome: All of the DNA that a person possesses. The human genome is made up of all of the DNA in our chromosomes as well as that in our mitochondria. (Each of us has, in fact, two genomes -- a large chromosomal genome and a much smaller mitochondrial genome.) Our genome also includes every gene we own plus all of our junk DNA The human genome is both "the treasury of human inheritance" and a vast dump (or recycling center).

A working draft of the human genome sequence was completed in 2000. Over the next three years this draft sequence was converted into a "finished sequence." "Finished sequence" is a technical term meaning that the sequence is highly accurate (with fewer than one error per 10,000 letters) and highly contiguous (with the only remaining gaps corresponding to regions whose sequence cannot be reliably resolved with current technology). The finished sequence covered about 99 percent of the human genome's gene-containing regions, and it had been sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99% by April 2003.

This feat was achieved by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium which included hundreds of scientists at 20 sequencing centers in China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and the United States. The five institutions that generated the most sequence were: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, Cambridge, Mass.; DOE's Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, Calif.; and The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, England.