Skip navigation
B. Cracking The Human Genome Riddle

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers are working around the clock to meet the U.S. Department of Energy's 2003 deadline to map the entire human genome. Treavor Hawkins, is the sequencing director of the Joint Genome Institute, a DOE and University of California-managed facility that's a key contributor to this global effort. Using state-of-the-art equipment, Hawkins says they're focusing on three human chromosomes in particular, each containing up to fifteen thousand genes - many of which are related to countless diseases, including many cancers.

Hawkins: It's an extremely exciting project - it is a project that will define biology for the next century. Without it, not only would we not know the hundred thousand genes in the human genome, but the majority of therapies, the majority of drugs now, are coming from understanding how genes and proteins work.

Narrator: But Hawkins says even when they do crack this massive genetic riddle, it'll still take many years to come up with new drug therapies.

Hawkins: The good news is this is pushing forward the date when that drug will be available - I mean, countless years.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.