Discoveries: They're In The Genes

James Watson is having one heck of a month. On April 2 he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Nature article in which he and Francis Crick revealed the structure of DNA to the world. Then, 16 labs joined this week to release the full results of his other opus, the Human Genome Project. Wait a minute, you say, didn't they already do that? Sort of. The sequence announced Monday is far more complete, with only 300 gaps, compared with 30,000 in the June 2000 version. Now we have to figure out what it all means. With most of the holes filled in, scientists are expected to lay out a plan for forthcoming research at a two-day symposium following the announcement, starring none other than Watson, the project's chief proponent. The proposed studies, according to a paper in this week's Nature, will focus on how genes interact with proteins, influence behavior and vary between populations. The hope is that the research will usher in new medical treatments and a better understanding of the species. The paper concludes with a quote advising scientists to "make big plans; aim high in hope and work." Hey, it worked for Watson.