Recorded: 02 Jun 2003
I think the end of the story came out good from the point of view of international cooperation. And I think when Francis Collins wrote and read last night the proclamation from the six presidents of the different countries proclaiming that significant portions of the human genome was finished, it was really good news. But the process by how that worked was not pretty. And the U.S. and England basically bullied the rest of the world. And although that there was really strong work on the parts of numerous countries particularly France and Japan is that those countries really in my personal view and the scientists there worked under true duress. And that they deserve much more credit than they get for being able to work with people that really basically told them what to do instead of having them be real collaborators. That was another aspect of the human genome project that I found pretty difficult to stomach. So that, yes, there was work done by everybody but that it wasn’t really on an equal footing with America and England.
Now in fairness America and England did most of the heavy lifting and most of the work. But I think it could have been a little more magnanimous all the way along. And I give specific people, in particular Yoshi Sukaki and Jean Weisenbach tremendous credit for hanging in there in situations when it would have been very easy to tell people what to do with their DNA sequence.
They attended all the meetings. But this is sort of a situation of an army. And in armies you have to have structure because the human genome project had to be run like a war. And so you have generals and you have lieutenants and you have foot soldiers and you have people that do the supply lines, right. But that didn’t have to be the case that all the generals were from the U.S. and England. And all the people that did the supply lines came from other countries. That’s my point.
David Cox received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Brown University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington. From 1980 to 1993, Dr. Cox held faculty positions in the Departments of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. In 1993, he became Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as the Co-director of the Stanford Genome Center.
Dr Cox was a co-founder of Perlegen, and has been Chief Scientific Officer of the Company since its formation in 2001. He has served on several international and national councils and commissions including the Council of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC). He presently serves as a member of the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine. Dr Cox's honors include election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cox was a member of one of the first groups to begin sequencing the human genome. His relationship with Watson developed from his interest in Cox’s innovative approach to sequencing, called radiation hybrid mapping.
He attended the 68th Cold Spring Harbor symposium to celebrate the completion of the rough draft of the human sequence.