by Dr. Raymond L. Orbach
Director, Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy
“Bringing the Genome to You” Public Symposium
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History
April 15, 2003
Dr. [Cristian] Samper, Dr. [Francis] Collins, Dr.
[James] Watson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
I am privileged to represent Secretary
of Energy Spencer Abraham as the steward of the Office
This gathering is as impressive as the
event we celebrate today: the fiftieth anniversary
of the discovery of DNA’s structure and the
completion of the Human Genome Project, a project
that attracted some of the finest scientists and pioneers
like Francis Collins and Craig Venter, who led the
private sector effort to decode human DNA.
I am also pleased to recognize Dr. Ari
Patrinos, who has played a pivotal role in the entire
human genome project.
The Department of Energy’s Office
of Science is the largest supporter of basic research
in the physical sciences in the United States, providing
43 percent of government funding for this vital area
of national importance.
The research the Office of Science supports
in the physical sciences underpins advances in genomics
and the life sciences.
No accomplishment by the Department
of Energy’s Office of Science ranks higher than
its historic role in the launching of the human genome
program in 1986, as proposed by Charles DeLisi.
Today, our Joint Genome Institute brings
together the research capabilities of three DOE national
laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore,
and Los Alamos. The Joint Genome Institute’s
state-of-the-art Production Genomics Facility in Walnut
Creek now sequences two billion base pairs of DNA
each month – the equivalent of two mammalian
genomes each year.
Just as it pioneered the human genome
project, the Department of Energy’s Office of
Science is now spearheading systems biology, studying
the behavior of the cell’s entire working complements
of proteins, their regulatory pathways and their interactions
as they perform function.
But these activities can only be carried out on a
scale that far exceeds today’s capacities.
That is why the Department of Energy’s
Office of Science, through the Genomes to Life program,
is developing plans for a set of four new research
facilities, intricately linked in their technologies,
capabilities, and capacities:
Facility One will be for the
production and characterization of proteins. This
facility will use highly automated processes
and characterize proteins directly from microbial
genome data and create “tags” to
identify, capture, and monitor proteins from
– and to make them available to all researchers.
Facility Two will be for whole
proteome analysis, characterizing the expressed
proteomes of diverse microbes under different
conditions – an essential step toward determining
the functions and interactions of individual proteins
and sets of proteins.
Facility Three will characterize
and image molecular machines, isolating, identifying,
and characterizing thousands of microbes. It
will develop the ability to image component proteins
complexes and validate the presence of these
complexes within cells.
Facility Four will analyze
and model cellular systems, combining advanced
computational, analytical, and experimental capabilities
integrated observation, measurement, and analysis
of variations in structure and functions of cellular
systems – from individual microbial cells
to complex communities and multi-cellular organisms.
Making the most advanced technologies
and computing resources available to scientists in
small or large laboratories will democratize access
to the tools needed for systems biology. These facilities
will open new avenues of inquiry and fundamentally
change the course of biological research by greatly
accelerating the pathways of discovery.
This is a day to celebrate both individual
efforts and cooperative multidisciplinary research
– the foundation of America’s scientific
Congratulations to all of you for your
role in what is surely one of the most important accomplishments
of mankind – the Human Genome Project. Thank