With private sector sequencing efforts nipping at its heels, the consortium directing the international Human Genome Project recently pushed up the deadline for completing a "working draft" of the human genetic blueprint from December 2001 to spring 2000. A "final draft" of the genome, with gaps closed and errors corrected, is scheduled for completion by 2003.1

The new deadline is based on a recent successfully completed three-year pilot phase of the project. Scientists will construct a working draft by first determining DNA sequences from mapped segments of DNA based on known locations in the genome. Data will then be assembled in overlapping stretches that reflect the accurate orientation of the DNA in the genome.

"When you look at the output of the pilot project effort," explains Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), "It is clear that the economies of scale that one hoped...

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