On Capitol Hill: One Day In The Hard Life Of The Genome Project

A routine hearing turns explosive when a critic of the program finds himself under attack by a prominent senator WASHINGTON - On the morning of July 11, in the rear of Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, health policy analyst Robert Cook-Degan was pacing anxiously. It was supposed to be a routine hearing, a chance for officials from the government's Human Genome Project to explain to a very sympathetic audience how well two federal agencies - the National Institutes of Health and t

Jeffrey Mervis
Aug 19, 1990


A routine hearing turns explosive when a critic of the program finds himself under attack by a prominent senator
WASHINGTON - On the morning of July 11, in the rear of Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, health policy analyst Robert Cook-Degan was pacing anxiously. It was supposed to be a routine hearing, a chance for officials from the government's Human Genome Project to explain to a very sympathetic audience how well two federal agencies - the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy - were working together on this first "big science" project in biology and what technological benefits might flow from mapping and sequencing the 3 billion base pairs that constitute the human genetic code.

But Cook-Degan, a former senior analyst at the congressional Office of Technology Assessment and a consultant to NIH's genome center, sensed trouble. Two of the witnesses - Harvard University...

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