Human Genome Project
U.S. Department of Energy

Human Genome Project Timeline

Major Events in the U.S. Human Genome Project and Related Projects

Acronyms listed here.

The Human Genome Project (HGP) refers to the international 13-year effort, formally begun in October 1990 and completed in 2003, to discover all the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 human genes and make them accessible for further biological study. Another project goal was to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA subunits (bases in the human genome). As part of the HGP, parallel studies were carried out on selected model organisms such as the bacterium Escherichia coli and the mouse to help develop the technology and interpret human gene function. The DOE Human Genome Program and the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) together sponsored the U.S. Human Genome Project. Research also was sponsored and carried out at institutions around the world.

The timeline below has been extended past completion of the HGP to include important related events up to 2013.



  • Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing report released by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. [October 2012]
  • ENCODE project published results from cross-consortium integrative analysis, covering more than 4 million regulatory regions in the human genome in 30 coordinated papers in NatureScience, and other journals. The Nature ENCODE website allows readers to follow a topic through all of the papers in the publication set. See also the UCSC ENCODE Integrative Analysis portal for additional material and analysis resources. [September 2012]
  • Illumina launched MyGenome app for iPad: First tool of its kind for visualizing the human genome. [June 2012]












  • Human chromosome 20 publishedNature 414, 865–71.  [December 20, 2001]
  • Genomes: 15 years later“—a perspective from Charles DeLisi, HGP pioneer. (Human Genome News 11(3–4). [July 2001]
  • Publication of Initial Working Draft Sequence [February 12, 2001]
    Special issues of Science (February 16, 2001) and Nature (February 15, 2001) contained the working draft of the human genome sequence. Nature papers included initial analysis of the descriptions of the sequence generated by the publicly sponsored Human Genome Project, while Science publications focused on the draft sequence reported by the private company, Celera Genomics. A press conference was held at 10 a.m., Monday, February 12, 2001, to discuss the landmark publications. Links for more information follow.


  • HGP leaders and President Clinton announced the completion of a “working draft” DNA sequence of the human genome. [June 26, 2000]
    • White House press conference: The Human Genome Project [June 26, 2000]
    • Press briefing and remarks
    • Interview with Ari Patrinos, Director U.S. DOE Human Genome Program.
      • Part One: “Reaction to President Clinton’s announcement of the completion of a draft sequence of the human genome” [Real Audio file]
      • Part Two: “Origins of the Human Genome Project, NIH Collaboration, and the Private Sector Role” [Real Audio file]
      • Part Three: “Application of Genome Discoveries, Next Steps in the Human Genome Project, and Ethical Considerations” [Real Audio file]
  • Human chromosome 21 published—the smallest human chromosome and the second to be sequenced completely. Nature 405, 311–19. [May 18, 2000]
  • DOE researchers announced completion of chromosomes 5, 16, and 19 draft sequence. [April 13, 2000]
    • Elbert Branscomb, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute [Real Audio file]
    • Trevor Hawkins, Director of Sequencing, DOE Joint Genome Institute [Real Audio file]
  • U.S. HGP reached 2 billionth base—two-thirds of genome completed. [March 29, 2000]
  • International collaborators published genome of fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. [March 24, 2000]
  • 2000 DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop VIIISanta Fe, NM [February 27–March 2, 2000]
  • President Clinton signed executive order prohibiting federal departments and agencies from using genetic information in hiring or promoting workers. Read more about the executive order. [February 8, 2000]













  • Roberts, Leslie. “Carving up the human genome.” Science 242(4883): 1244–46. [December 2, 1988]
  • DOE and NIH signed MOU outlining plans for cooperation on genome research. [Fall 1988]
  • DeLisi, Charles. “The Human Genome Project.” American Scientist, 76(5): 488–93. [ September–October 1988]
  • Barnhart, Benjamin. “The Human Genome Project: A DOE Perspective.” Basic Life Sciences 46, 161–66. [1988]
  • Reports by congressional OTA and NAS NRC committees recommended concerted genome research program. [1988]
  • Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) founded by scientists to coordinate efforts internationally. [April 1988]
  • First annual Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting on human genome mapping and sequencing. See also Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Oral History Collection. [April–May 1988]
  • Research finding: Telomere (chromosome end) sequence having implications for aging and cancer research identified at LANL. [1988]


  • The genome project,” New York Times Magazine 12–13. [December 13, 1987]
  • Congressionally chartered DOE advisory committee, HERAC, unanimiously recommended a 15-year, multidisciplinary, scientific, and technological undertaking to map and sequence the human genome. DOE designated multidisciplinary human genome centers. (See “Report on the Human Genome Initiative,” prepared by HERAC, U.S. DOE Document ER-0382; see also “Human genome sequencing plan wins unanimous approval in US.” Nature 326, 429. [April 2, 1987]
  • NIH NIGMS begins funding of genome projects. [1987]



  • The online database, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM), was created in 1985 by a collaboration between the National Library of Medicine and the William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins. This database was initiated in the early 1960s by Dr. Victor A. McKusick as a printed catalog of mendelian traits and disorders, entitled Mendelian Inheritance in Man (MIM).
  • Robert Sinsheimer holds meeting on human genome sequencing at University of California, Santa Cruz. See R.L. Sinsheimer, “The Santa Cruz Workshop.” Genomics 5, 954. [May 1986]
  • Charles DeLisi and David SmithOHER’s Charles DeLisi and David A. Smith commissioned the first Santa Fe conference to assess the feasibility of a Human Genome Initiative. (See also March 3–4, 1986, conference report. [1985]


  • DOE OHER and ICPEMC cosponsored Alta, Utah, conference highlighting the growing role of recombinant DNA technologies. OTA incorporated Alta proceedings into report acknowledging value of human genome reference sequence. Robert Cook-Deegan, “The Alta summit, December 1984,” Genomics 5, 661–63. [1984]


  • LANL and LLNL began production of DNA clone (cosmid) libraries representing single chromosomes. [1983]

1977 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • DOE Organization Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-91) mandated the Department of Energy to “assure incorporation of national environmental protection goals in the formulation and implementation of energy programs”; “advance the goal of restoring, protecting, and enhancing environmental quality and assuring public health and safety”; and to conduct “a comprehensive program of research and development on the environmental effects of energy technology and program.” [1977]

1974 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Federal Non-Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-577) authorized the Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA, predecessor agency to DOE) to conduct a comprehensive non-nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration program to include the environmental and social consequences of the various related technologies. [1974]
  • Federal Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-438) provided that responsibilities of the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA, predecessor agency to DOE) shall include “engaging in and supporting environmental, biomedical, physical, and safety research related to the development of energy resources and utilization technologies.” [1974]

1954 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (P.L. 83-706) authorized the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC, predecessor agency to ERDA and DOE) “to conduct research on the biologic effects of ionizing radiation.” [1954]

1946 Genome Project–Enabling Legislation

  • Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-585) provided the initial charter for a comprehensive program of research and development related to the utilization of fissionable and radioactive materials for medical, biological, and health purposes. [1946]