Public Release:  International HapMap Consortium publishes scientific strategy

NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 18, 2003 - The International HapMap Consortium today published a paper that sets forth the scientific rationale and strategy behind its effort to create a map of human genetic variation. This genetic variation influences our individual predispositions to disease and our responses to medicines. The map is aimed at speeding the searches for genes affecting cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other common conditions.

In the paper published in the journal Nature, the public-private consortium also outlined its policies for the rapid release of HapMap data to researchers around the world. Some of the data are being released quickly and publicly with no conditions, while some data can be accessed quickly by researchers who agree not to restrict the use of the data by other researchers, and to share the data only with those who have agreed to the same conditions.

The $120 million International HapMap Project was launched in October 2002 and is expected to take three years to complete. The project is a partnership of scientists and funding agencies from Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States. The U.S. component of the International HapMap Project is led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal of the consortium is to develop a public resource - a map of the common patterns of human genetic variations, or haplotypes - that will help researchers find genes associated with human disease and response to medicines. In addition to the current paper detailing the project's scientific strategy, the consortium plans to publish a companion paper describing in more detail how the project is addressing the ethical, social and cultural concerns raised by this type of genomics research.

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For more information and progress updates on the International HapMap Project, go to the project's Web site at http://www.hapmap.org/index.html. Additional information can also be found at http://www.genome.gov/HapMap. General information about NHGRI can be found at: http://www.genome.gov.

For more information or to arrange interviews with scientists regarding the International HapMap Project, contact:

Canada
Anie Perrault
Génome Canada
613-296-7292
aperrault@GENOMECANADA.CA

China
Huanming Yang
Beijing Genomics Institute
86-10-8049-4969
hmyang@genetics.ac.cn

Japan
Yusuke Nakamura
RIKEN and University of Tokyo
81-3-5449-5372
yusuke@ims.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Nigeria
Charles Rotimi
Howard University
202-806-5419
crotimi@howard.edu

Clement Adebamowo
University of Ibadan
234-2-2410995
cadebamo@hsph.harvard.edu

United Kingdom
Don Powell
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
44-0-1223-494-956
don@sanger.ac.uk

United States
Geoff Spencer
National Human Genome Research Institute
301-402-0911
spencerg@mail.nih.gov

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