February 15, 2023, marks the 22nd anniversary of the publishing of the initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome, a milestone event for mankind and for BGI.
On February 15, 2001, Nature published in a 62-page cover article a draft of the human genome with more than 90% of the DNA base pairs in the human body having been sequenced by scientists from the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, and China.
The draft of the human genome with more than 90% of the DNA base pairs in the human body is published in Volume 409 Issue 6822 of Nature, 15 February 2001. (Credit: Nature)
This was a stunning accomplishment that had taken 13 years, opened a new chapter in life sciences at the beginning of the new century, and provided the foothold for BGI’s long-term success as China’s genomics leading organization.
During the Human Genome Project, China undertook 1% of the tasks and completed the sequencing of 30 million base pairs on chromosome 3. This spurred the development of genomics research and technology for gene sequencing. Development that continues today with the latest, world leading Spatio-temporal technology, Stereo-seq.
But, for BGI the Human Genome Project was just the beginning. On September 9, 1999, BGI was formally established. And has grown progressively since then.
In 2001, BGI independently completed the rice (indica) genome project. Since then, BGI has successfully completed the gene mapping of silkworm, chicken, and other species. In addition, BGI has led and participated in the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), the first Asian genome map ("Yanhuang No.1"), The 1000 Genomes Project (1KGP), the International Giant Panda Genome Project, the Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract Project (MetaHIT) and other large-scale scientific research cooperation projects.
The Human Genome Project saw unprecedented international collaboration with more than 2,000 scientists from different countries and fields working together toward a global goal.
In 2022, BGI again worked with scientists globally and jointly led the establishment of an international scientific organization, the SpatioTemporal Omics Consortium (STOC), to support the wide application of Spatio-temporal omics technology in various fields of life sciences. At present, more than 190 scientists from 30 countries have joined STOC.
The launch ceremony of SpatioTemporal Omics Consortium (STOC), May 5, 2022.
Today, BGI, as a leading life sciences organization, has completed a complete transformation from a participant in the HGP, to an independent completer of sequencing projects, and then to the initiator of a global alliance.
For genetic science and biomedicine, the completion of human genome sequencing is just the beginning.
The completion of the working draft of the Human Genome Project opened a new era for genomics research. With the continuous improvement of gene sequencing tools, the cost of sequencing has dropped at the speed of "Moore's Law", and genomics and bioinformatics technologies have promoted the rapid development of global biological related disciplines and industries. It was only earlier this month that MGI launched the DNBSEQ-T20×2 is a fully automated ultra-high throughput sequencer capable of reducing the cost of whole genome sequencing to less than US$100.
Thanks to the reduction in the cost of gene sequencing, the goal of improving human health through genomics research is also being realized. For more than 20 years, genetic testing, genetic diagnosis, and gene therapy have continuously expanded their application scenarios, effectively helping clinical disease diagnosis and treatment and the development of precision medicine. There is no doubt that the Human Genome Project has had a huge positive impact on both scientific progress and human society.
Since the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, 70 years have passed, and human beings' understanding of the mysteries of life has continued to move to a new level. Wang Jian, Co-founder and Chairman of BGI Group, believes that "human beings have entered not only the era of bio-economy, but the 'age of life', an era in which the health, value, and meaning of life are the main development direction in the future. "
The ultimate promise of the Human Genome Project is to improve human life, moving from understanding the biology of disease to diagnosis, treatment, and even prevention. That is what BGI is committed to doing, taking gene technology to benefit mankind.