Nov. 1, 1991 | The FASEB Journal | Editorial

Robert L. Sinsheimer

Scientists, immersed in the day-to-day challenges of research, may sometimes overlook the larger significance of their enterprise. The Human Genome Initiative is an epic venture of discovery. This project – to reveal and map in nucleotide detail the biological inheritance of Homo sapiens — will expose and hopefully, alleviate human genetic flaws that produce so much misery and suffering. It will, as well, in time clarify many endlessly and fruitlessly debate mysteries of human nature. And in so doing, it will illuminate the record of the human past, the prehistory of our species.

Some 100,000 or 200,000 years ago, we, Homo sapiens, emerged on this planet out of the panoply of life. We emerged with this body, this frame, these hands, this mind, unaware of any past, ignorant of our inner self, innocent of the future.

We have ever asked what are we, where are we, from where did we come? And somehow we have found our way, gradually and incompletely, to answers, immanent but elusive, in the world around us and within us. And now we know that the record of our past and the blueprint for our being lies in this genetic script we are about to explore. 

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