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.


June David Deamer conceives nanopore DNA sequencing.


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


June 22  Jim Kent assembles the human genome sequence using his 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 Launch of the UC Santa Cruz Genome Browser.


January Copy of first draft of the human genome sequence presented to President Clinton and deposited in the Smithsonian.

February Publication of the human genome sequence in Nature.

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.


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.


October Josh Stuart and David Haussler join the NIH’s Cancer Genome Atlas Project.


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).


May Ed Green and colleagues publish the Neanderthal genome sequence.


May Opening of the Cancer Genomics Hub (CG Hub) database at UC Santa Cruz.


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.


April Beth Shapiro publishes How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction; CALeDNA project launched.

August California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine provides $1.2 million in funding to Genomics Institute’s California Kids Cancer Comparison project


April 4 BRCA Exchange opens with Internet access to genetic variants in most important breast cancer gene.

July St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative with $2.5 million grant.


July Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative funds Benedict Paten and Jim Kent to build data platform for Human Cell Atlas.

April Ed Green’s DNA forensic analysis cracks the Golden State Killer case.

November Schmidt Family Foundation funds Braingeneers project at UCSC/UCSF.


September Launch of the Human Pangenome Project led by UC Santa Cruz.