Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
DNA
The Secret of Life Playing God Human Race Curing Cancer Pandora's Box Timeline 3D DNA Explorer
Episode 3 : Human RaceEpisode 3 : Human Race


Photo of genetic code In the 1990s, the race to work out the structure of DNA fifty years ago was eclipsed by another race: to catalogue all the genes in the human genome. The rivalry became so bitter that Presidents and Prime Ministers had to intervene in an epic endeavor that would take over a decade to complete and cost millions of dollars.
The story begins in 1990, when the Human Genome Project was launched to decipher the complete instruction manual of the human being. This epic endeavour took over a decade to complete and cost billions of dollars. Eight years after its launch, a rival private bid was announced in an attempt to shut the public project down. A personal feud erupted between Craig Venter, who ran Celera's privately funded Genome Project, and Sir John Sulston, who oversaw Britain's share of the public Human Genome Project. Craig Venter believed he could finish the Human Genome several years before the public project.

The fighting became so intense that President Clinton stepped in to try to unite the two sides. Clinton asked a go-between to sort out the two warring groups. Over pizza and beer in a basement, the two sides agreed to a cease-fire. They would announce their draft results -- together -- in a joint celebration hosted by The White House in June 2000.

Produced/directed by Carlo Massarella and edited by Paul Shepard.
Testifying before Congress Newspaper headline
Photos: Segment of the human genome (top). James Watson and company (bottom left) testify before Congress to argue for government funding of the Human Genome Project.


Double helix and code
In-vestigators use PCR to identify forensic evidence.
Learn More
Watch the Video
Test tubes
See how the human genome was sequenced.
Play Video
Tools
Glossary
E-Mail this page

For Teachers DNA Resources Feedback Support PBSSupport PBS Credits