Under the leadership of James Watson, it was decided to focus the first
5 years of the HGP on the development of genetic and physical maps of the
human genome, which would themselves be of great value to scientists hunting
for disease genes. The HGP also tackled mapping and sequencing of simpler
model organisms, such as bacteria, yeast, the roundworm, and the fruit fly.9- 12 Considerable
investments were made in improving technology. Perhaps the most unusual feature
for a basic science enterprise, 3% to 5% of the budget was set aside from
the outset for research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of
this expected acceleration in obtaining genetic information about our species.10 In the past, ethical, legal, and social analysis
of the consequences of a scientific revolution often were relegated to other
groups outside the scientific mainstream or lay dormant until a crisis developed.
This time, the intention was to inspire a cohort of ethicists, social scientists,
legal scholars, theologians, and others to address the coming dilemmas associated
with increased knowledge about the genome, from social and legal discrimination
on the basis of genetics to more philosophical issues such as genetic determinism.