For Immediate Release
Paris, 11 May – Some 200 researchers are taking part in the third Human Variome Project meeting which began at UNESCO headquarters on 10 May. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bovoka, has granted the Organization’s patronage to the meeting, which is focused on how human genetic variation data can be collected and shared and used to develop treatments against disease.
The Human Variome Project is an international consortium of researchers committed to reducing the burden of genetic disease on the world’s population. The consortium believes that the collection of information on every instance of a genetic variation and its effect on human health is the only way that the vision can be achieved. The sharing of information on genetic variation and its consequences among scientists and within civil society allows existing treatments to be delivered more effectively to patients and new treatments and cures to be developed.
The complete sequencing of the human genome met with worldwide acclaim, not only because a significant mountain had been climbed but because scientists acquired the potential to simplify the analysis of both non-inherited and inherited genetic disease. The next frontier is the discovery and documentation of all variations present in human genes so that the results of the Human Genome can be put to practical use for disease treatment and prevention. The Human Variome Project, gathering and sharing genetic variation data, aims to make this happen.
"UNESCO wishes to underline the importance of utilizing basic research to meet societal needs and bringing together scientists and civil society for dialogue and co-operation" said Walter Erdelen, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, in his welcoming address to the meeting. “The multidisciplinary nature of the Human Variome Project, which includes scientists and practitioners from different disciplines (molecular biologists, geneticists, clinicians, epidemiologists, bioinformaticians and IT specialists), allows for basic research findings to be accessible to and useful for clinicians and the people they serve.”