Genomics History & Milestones


May 24-26 Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer convenes a group of eminent biologists in Santa Cruz to propose a massive, historic project to determine the complete DNA sequence of the human genome—our genetic blueprint. Read Dr. Sinheimer’s account of the Santa Cruz WorkshopFor more about Robert Sinsheimer’s mark on the human genome project, read this 2017 feature story written following Sinsheimer’s death at age 97.


International Human Genome Project launches with the goal of reaching a significant milestone: a complete human genome sequence by 2005.


UCSC’s David Haussler joins the project to locate the genes in the human genome sequence and enlists molecular biology graduate student Jim Kent to help reach this milestone.


June 22 UCSC assembles the human genome sequence using Kent’s 10,000-line computer program.
July 7 The UCSC genome bioinformatics group makes history by releasing the first working draft of the human genome sequence on the web. Scientists download half a trillion bytes of information from the UCSC genome server in the first 24 hours.
September Just a few months following its historic publication, UC Santa Cruz’s Genome Browser has already become an essential resource to biomedical science.


February The majority of the human genome is published. Francis Collins, the director of NHGRI, outlines the many of its possible uses: “It’s a history book—a narrative of the journey of our species through time. It’s a shop manual, with an incredibly detailed blueprint for building every human cell. And it’s a transformative textbook of medicine, with insights that will give health care providers immense new powers to treat, prevent and cure disease.”

Tuesday, June 19 A report in WIRED News describes the Beyond Genome 2001 meeting at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the challenges facing its participants, including Haussler, Kent and others. Read more

August 25 The Human Genome Symposium is convened at UC Santa Cruz to discuss the world-changing impact of sequencing the human genome and practical, ethical, legal and privacy issues in a post-genomic world.

The Symposium included a scientific workshop and a public forum. Panelists at the forum were Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute; Robert Sinsheimer, chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus of biology, UC Santa Cruz; Gene Myers, vice-president of informatics research, Celera Genomics; and Mary-Claire King, professor of Medicine and Genetics, University of Washington. The moderator was Richard Harris, science reporter for National Public Radio and an alumnus of UCSC. The video and panel discussion recordings are available online.


April The full sequence of the human genome is published, marking the completion of the Human Genome Project and a monumental point in history.
October UC Santa Cruz develops and runs the data coordination center for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project from its inception in October, 2003 through the end of the first production phase in 2012. The ENCODE project is developing a comprehensive “parts list” of the human genome by identifying and precisely locating all functional elements in our DNA sequence.


May Genomics Institute publishes findings about ultra-conserved elements in the human genome that have remained unchanged through long periods of evolutionary history—one of Science magazine’s breakthroughs of the year.


March UCSC Cancer Genomics Browser makes its historic debut, built on the UCSC Genomics Browser platform and capable of visualizing data from cancer clinical trials.

April An international team of collaborators, including David Haussler, launch the Genome 10K project to reach the milestone of sequencing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species. The initiative is funded in part by the first-ever grant from the UC Santa Cruz Foundation Board Opportunity Fund (BOF).

December mobile version of the UCSC Genome Browser is released for the iPhone.


May The Neanderthal genome draft sequence is posted on the UCSC Genome Browser and published with scientific findings in Science by UC Santa Cruz’s Richard E. (Ed) Green.


February The scientific community celebrates the 10th anniversary of the sequencing of the human genome.
August Genomics Institute begins work on national data center for cancer genomics.


May The Cancer Genomics Hub (CGHub) provides cancer researchers nationwide with efficient access to a large and rapidly growing store of biomedical data.


January Global Alliance for Genomics & Health is established to unite research, health care and disease advocacy organizations in standardizing and enabling secure sharing of genomic and clinical data.


January Simons Foundation awards up to $1 million to UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute to develop a comprehensive Human Genome Variation Map for scientific and medical research
May David Haussler shares the $1 million Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University for research in bioinformatics.
August California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine provides $1.2 million in funding to Genomics Institute’s California Kids Cancer Comparison project


July St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative with $2.5 million grant
September David Haussler named as one of seven influential leaders appointed to Chan Zuckerberg science initiative Science Advisory Board.
December Colligan Presidential Chair in Pediatric Genomics established.