Wednesday, March 14, 2000


"The effort to decipher the human genome...will be the scientific breakthrough of the century - perhaps of all time. We have a profound responsibility to ensure that the life-saving benefits of any cutting-edge research are available to all human beings."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, March 14, 2000

Today, at the Medals of Science and Technology awards ceremony at the White House, President Clinton announced that he and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair have agreed on a statement of principle to ensure that discoveries from the human genome are used to advance human health. Their joint statement applauds researchers who have made their raw human genome sequence data freely available to the global scientific community and calls upon others to follow their lead. The statement also acknowledges the importance of intellectual property protection as an incentive for the development of important gene-based health care products.

LONGER LIVES, BETTER HEALTH THROUGH THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT. The U.S. and the U.K. are the leading partners in Human Genome Project - the international effort to map and sequence the 3 billion "letters" and to locate and identify the roughly 100,000 genes that make up the human genetic code. The project will revolutionize the practice of medicine, providing the means to customize treatments to the needs of each patient, and to prolong healthy life by predicting and preventing diseases. The National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute and the Department of Energy's Human Genome Program together make up the U.S. Human Genome Project, the world's largest centrally coordinated biology research project ever undertaken.

SEQUENCING DATA WILL UNLOCK MYSTERIES OF DNA. The most important development in human biology in the short term will be the completion of the sequencing of the human genome. When the sequencing is complete, researchers will have access to detailed information that is key to understanding the structure, organization, and function of DNA in chromosomes. Scientists will then face the challenge of using this information to develop new products that can diagnose and treat human diseases. Significant advances have already been made: for example, the Human Genome Project has produced detailed maps that can help pinpoint genes associated with particular diseases - such as hereditary colon cancer - leading to better treatment and prevention. Unencumbered access to the raw human sequence data will enable its use by scientists all over the world in their efforts to understand human biology and disease at the level of individual genes. Likewise, appropriate intellectual property protection is important in encouraging private-sector development of new products. The potential for U.S. industry is immense: sales of DNA-based products and technologies in the biotechnology industry are projected to exceed $45 billion by 2009.

AN UNPRECEDENTED COMMITMENT TO RESEARCH. Government-funded research has made significant advances in recent years, but continued support is critical. President Clinton and Vice President Gore remain unwavering in their commitment to science and technology as crucial investments in our future. During the past eight years, the President and Vice President have increased funding by 165% - over $2.6 billion - to the Human Genome Project. The President's FY 2001 budget calls for an unprecedented $3 billion increase in the 21st Century Research Fund - the largest increase in civilian research in a generation - to accelerate the pace of discovery across all science and technology disciplines. This includes a $1 billion increase in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, and double the largest dollar increase for the National Science Foundation in its 50 year history. These investments will support research in areas such as diabetes, brain disorders, cancer, genetic medicine, disease prevention strategies, and development of an AIDS vaccine, allowing Americans to lead longer, healthier lives.

The White House Briefing Room
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