At a featured symposium of last month's American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) meeting in Philadelphia, Bob Waterston, director of the genome sequencing center at Washington University in St. Louis, reviewed how and why the Human Genome Project (HGP) accelerated in 1998. Having at that point generated a disappointing 10 percent of the total human sequence, sequencing centers had to greatly scale up efforts in order to reach this past summer's milestone "draft" ahead of schedule. First, said Waterston, the HGP procured new and improved sequencing machines. "The other factor," he explained as he showed the several thousand attendees a large photo of a scowling J. Craig Venter, "was the announcement by Celera that they were going to sequence the human genome as well." Audience members chuckled at the reference to the competitive push provided by Celera Genomics' CEO.

Now, government-funded sequencing efforts may have once again been...

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