In 1988 a consortium of US scientists persuaded Congress to fund a project to find out the exact structure of the entire DNA in a human cell: to sequence the human genome. Initially, $3 000 000 000 was allocated. The Human Genome Project (HGP) as it is known has been described as “biology’s moonshot” and has taken 13-years. The work started in 1990 and was originally planned to last for 15 years, but because scientists developed improved techniques for sequencing the genes, it was actually completed in 2003. The aims of the project were to:
To help with these aims, the genetic makeup of several nonhuman organisms, such as the common human gut bacterium Escherichia coli, a nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the laboratory mouse were also sequenced.