Human Genome Project: History and Assessment
H. Zwart (2015) “Human Genome Project: history and assessment”. In: International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed. Oxford: Elsevier, 311–317.
7 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 28, 2015
The Human Genome Project (HGP) has been hailed as an important milestone in the history of science, in the history of humanity even, and as a project whose completion would not only transform the practice of medicine, but change forever the course of human history as well. By setting up a flanking program devoted to anticipating and addressing the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics, the HGP has had a substantial influence on the social sciences and humanities fields involved in studying contemporary science as well. In this article, the HGP is first of all placed in a historical perspective (as a key chapter in the history of the life sciences as such). As to the history of the HGP proper (1990–2003), three stages are distinguished. Finally, the author assesses what the impact of the HGP has been, both for the life sciences as such and for the society in a broader sense. Although biomedical benefits (in the form of new treatments, etc.) have been sparse (in comparison to the stellar expectations of the early years), the HGP did change the way we think about ourselves and our own history: Its ‘cultural’ relevance has been quite significant.
Keywords: Genomics, Human Genome Project, ELSA Life Sciences, History of the Life Sciences, Bioethics
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