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Researchers from the Human Genome Project to speak at Bates

Ruth Hubbard, Richard Lewontin and Philip Reilly, scientists from the Human Genome Project, will discuss the medical, social, legal and ethical implications of their research at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 23, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, Bates College. The public is invited to attend the Muskie Millennial Series lecture free of charge.

The Human Genome Project is an international research program designed to construct detailed genetic and physical maps of the human genome, information that constitutes the master blueprint for the development and functioning of a human being. Found in every nucleus of a person’s many trillions of cells, the human genome consists of tightly coiled threads of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and associated protein molecules, organized into structures called chromosomes. If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA would stretch more than five feet, but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide. For each organism, the components of these slender threads encode all the information necessary for building and maintaining life, from simple bacteria to remarkably complex life forms, such as human beings.

The ultimate goal of genome research is to find all the genes in the DNA sequence and to develop tools for using this information in the study of human biology and medicine. Availability of the human genome sequence offers unprecedented scientific opportunities, including identifying an individual’s risk of developing genetic-related diseases. Though an understanding of the relationship between genetic variation and disease risk promises to improve the future prevention and treatment of illness, the new focus on genetic variation raises ethical, legal and social issues that need to be resolved.



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