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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 21 November 2007
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Why was the Human Genome Project so important, and where do we go to next? Nobel prize winner, Sir Paul Nurse, explains.

What impact is the Human Genome Project having on science? Has it lived up to its hype?

Transcript

School student: How has the Human Genome Project changed scientific research?

Sir Paul Nurse: How does the Human Genome Project change our view of life? I’m going to use another metaphor. If you were writing a play, the first thing you would generally do is draw up a list of characters who would be playing in that play, and then you would write the script, agreed?

What we have with the human genome sequence is the list of players. What we have to do now is write the script. So it's necessary, but it is only the beginning. Because what the human genome has allowed us to do, is to describe what genes are there. So we know the characters - we know the individuals are there. Now we have to work out how they all work together to make it a living organism, to make a human being. We are still only scratching at that surface. Some people feel a bit disappointed, because you know us biologists over sold the human genome project. We didn’t oversell it, we said you needed to have it, okay, but it is only step one. We now have to write all the script to the play.