“How Analytical Chemists Saved the Human Genome Project.”


The January 1, 2002 issue of Analytical Chemistry has an article on the role of research in analytical chemistry in enabling the rapid progress that has occurred in the human genome project. The article traces the development of capillary array electrophoresis, the key technology in the actual sequencing of DNA, from the fundamental research by James Jorgensen of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, that established the technique of capillary electrophoresis to the present day. The article discusses several research contributions that were funded in whole or part by the BER genome program. A key step was development of polymer matrices to fill the capillaries by Barry Karger at Northeastern University. Techniques for detection of the separated DNA fragments in capillary tubes were developed by Norm Dovichi (then at the University of Alberta), Rich Mathies (University of California, Berkeley) and Ed Yeung (Ames Laboratory) allowing high efficiency in readout of sequencing runs, and served as the basis for three commercial instruments for automated sequencing. According to Dovichi these developments in instrumentation played a key role in enabling the initial human genome sequence to be completed about four years before the original target of 2005.