It is my great pleasure to introduce The Human Genome Project: An Annotated & Scholarly Guide to the Project in the United States. The idea for this annotated scholarly guide to the Human Genome Project (HGP) originated at an international meeting on the history of the HGP that was held in May of 2012 at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center. This meeting gathered a wide range of participants, including scientists, administrators, authors, publishers, filmmakers, historians, and funders, to consider how best to present the history of the HGP to different audiences.
The HGP was the first “big science” project for biological research, and while previous big science projects, such as the Manhattan Project, were documented extensively, we recognized that formal plans to document the HGP had not made at its inception. Thus, this annotated guide is the first step in this direction. The Human Genome Project: An Annotated & Scholarly Guide to the Project in the United States was a natural project for us to take on because of the establishment in 2005 of the Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the CSHL Library and Archives and my belief that it is critically important to document the history of these relatively new scientific areas while primary sources and people remain available.
We intend this guide as a research tool that historians of medicine and the life sciences, as well as bioethicists and public health officials, can use to locate materials for their research. Represented here is a compendium of a wide range of materials from the HGP covering the years 1977 to 2003, including: a brief history of the HGP; research methods used; ethical, legal, and social implications; grant applications; news items; scientific records, data, and notebooks; relevant meetings and publications; government documents; brief biographies of those involved in the HGP; participating academic, commercial, and governmental organizations; genome maps and sequences; as well as links to other repositories. We are presenting the guide as an e-book/pdf for ease of navigation. And while the current version covers just the United States HGP collections, a future version will be expanded to cover international resources.
We are grateful for the grant support of the National Library of Medicine Grants for Scholarly Works in Biomedicine and Health program. Such a large and complex project would not have been possible without the the significant contributions of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archivies staff—Michael Eisenstein, Brian Dick, Robert Wargas, Clare Clark, and Stephanie Satalino. Co-leaders on this project were Judy Wieber, who collected much of the guide’s content, and Thomas Adams, who oversaw the database and technological aspects. This immense editorial task was undertaken by Kevin Davies, founding editor of Nature Genetics and author of articles and books about the HGP.
I hope that scholars and historians will find this initial guide to be a useful resource in planning and completing their own HGP projects, and I look forward to hearing their comments and suggestions for future development of this extensive resource.
Ludmila Pollock, Executive Director
Genentech Center for the History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
CSHL Library & Archives