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Berkeley, Los Alamos Labs Chosen to Explore Makeup of Human Genome

September 10, 1987|From Times Wires Services

BERKELEY — The Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory have been chosen for advanced genetic research, officials announced Wednesday.

The laboratories will participate in one of the major scientific undertakings of the day: the exploration of the composition of the human genome, a gene material found in the nucleus of every human cell.

"The human genome project may well have the greatest direct impact on humanity of any scientific initiative before us today," said David Shirley, director of the Berkeley laboratory.

U.S. Energy Secretary John S. Herrington named the Berkeley and Los Alamos laboratories to house new research centers as part of a project to decipher the genome.

The genome holds the genetically coded instructions that guide the transformation of a single cell--a fertilized egg--into a human being, a spokesman for the Berkeley lab said.

The ability to read the genetic material's message could help scientists better understand human development and assist in the diagnosis and prevention of a number of diseases that have been linked to a breakdown in the genetic process, such as cancer, heart disease, sickle cell anemia and more than 3,000 other illnesses.

The Berkeley Center's research includes mapping and sequencing the genome, the two steps necessary for reading and understanding its message.

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