Introduction by H. Domdey
Scientific Director of BayGene
In 1983, more than 20 years ago, it was the world renown molecular biologist and Nobel Prize carrier Renato Dulbecco who published his thoughts on decoding the entire human genome in the Journal "Science"; it was the first time ever that this idea was published. "Nothing but a mad idea!" thought most of the contemporary human geneticists and molecular biologists - as did many others too. Only after Months of HEFTIG and intensive discussions would this proposal find support amongst at least some members of the scientific community.
1987 saw the first ever genome conference in Cold Spring Harbour on Long Island, which created the "Human Genome Organization" HUGO amongst other things. 1990 was the official founding of the massive project, which over ranked all other biological projects worldwide in size.
This project could be successfully finished much earlier than expected - in the year 2000, 5 years before the advertised date, news of near total analysis of the human genome could be brought to the astonished world.
Nevertheless, the successful analysis of the human genome is not more than the first and possibly comparatively smallest step in the complete project of decoding the human genome. The main task awaiting us now will certainly demand a multitude of time and money - it is the task of understanding the function of the genes, understanding the function of the DNA sequences in which these genes are embedded and understanding the proteins the genes code for. The huge economic potential in this field of research rapidly became apparent. Functional genome research and the knowledge gained through it will thus not only have an impact on health-politics but also on the entire market and economics. The Bavarian Genome Research Network, which supports and networks high-ranking projects in functional genome research, aims to benchmark in the Bavarian research landscape.
The seven initially funded projects already are weaving a network of cooperation and information transfer with other associated projects in economics and industry to secure efficient research and rapid technology transfer.
System biological approaches concentrate on unravelling the complex interactions by analysing the involved genes and their respective proteins. New therapeutic strategies for treatment of cancer, metabolic disorders and herpes viruses are in the pipeline.
Continuous development of important new technologies plays as central a role as does interpretation of complex interaction with established analytical methods. Discussion of results beyond team borders improves processing time of inquiries.
Even today, Bavaria plays a leading role in the European research landscape. The cooperation of outstanding scientists as is planned within the Bavarian Genome Research Network will aid us in defending this position in the international world of science and further establishing the lead.