The Human Genome Project and the field of genetics have a diversity problem

Credit : Lauren Solomon/iStock
Credit : Lauren Solomon/iStock

The Human Genome Project was an international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping and understanding of all genes. It created a genetic blueprint for building a human being.  

The results of the project were groundbreaking, but there may have been a diversity problem. 

Seventy percent of its first DNA sequence came from the sample of just one man.

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Eighty percent of all insights came from people of European descent, which means that there are millions of gene variations still missing from the collection amassed by the project.

A recent study of DNA from people of African descent showed at least 300 million letters were missing from the reference genome.

Now a company in Cambridge is trying to change that by collecting data from different parts of the world. 

Simit Jianhua, CEO of Global Gene Corp, is spearheading efforts to diversify genomics by collecting bio data from India.

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“What we now need to do to achieve the promise of genomics is to gain a better understanding of the genes of people from different populations, because it helps us to understand what the risks are for that particular individual from that particular population. But it also allows us to solve different diseases on a global scale.”

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