Recorded: 31 May 2003
I guess that the part that I got most upset about was the—not the fact that competition emerged with the private sector, but that I thought the competition had some undesirable effects. It had a good effect. I mean competition is good generally in that it does energize people and get them to increase their productivity, and that certainly happened as a result of the competition with Celera. But it also, really both groups got pressured to move more quickly and produce a lower quality product than they had originally intended.
Celera actually in their announcement in Science of the intent to form the company and the description of how they were going to go about sequencing the human genome said that they were going to do ten-fold;
I believe it was ten-fold coverage of the genome in reads. And the public project had a carefully laid out plan for going clone by clone and, I think actually, the competition resulted in Celera reducing the amount of sequencing they actually did compared to what they said they were going to do. And it also—that the public project proceeded in a way that was actually pretty inefficient in terms of they didn’t really have a good tiling path of clones to proceed from at the time that they needed to start sequencing at a very large scale. And so there were a lot of inefficiencies in how that was carried out. And it actually even seems possible to me that the completed sequence might have been completed earlier if they had sort of scaled up in a more measured way where they used the map, once it became available. So, I got kind of discouraged. I actually argued strongly against doing the draft for the public projects switching over to doing the draft.
Philip Green is a professor of genome sciences, an adjunct professor of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Washington, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and was recently elected into the National Academy of Sciences.
Green designs software packages which aid in making genetic maps and identifying genes within the genome. He is concerned with constructing computational tools to understand cell functioning at a molecular level. Green has created the program Phred, which manages the data generated by the Human Genome Project and which is being used to help determine the most common variations in human DNA. Green’s laboratory is working to construct a gene-annotated genome sequence. His lab has modified the number of genes thought to be in the human genome—it is substantially fewer than had been previously believed.
Green spoke at the 68th Cold Spring Harbor Symposium focused on the Genome of Homo Sapiens.