News & CommentGerman Genome Program

The Right Mix of Form and Function?

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Science  02 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5275, pp. 570-571
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5275.570


Heidelberg—Last summer, Germany's science minister, Jürgen Rüttgers, made an announcement that many of the country's researchers thought they would never hear: The government would launch a national genome research program. Rüttgers's announcement posed a tough question: How should Germany enter a fast-moving field in which it lags far behind? Some argued that Germany should shoulder its share of high-cost mapping and sequencing efforts already being pursued by other countries, while others felt that Germany should instead concentrate on ways to get at the functions of the human genes being uncovered by those efforts. One year and many hard discussions later, with the first projects chosen, the outlines of the enterprise are emerging—although the debate on how to divide up the funds may not be over.