DNA Episode 3: The Human Race

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DNA Episode 3: The Human Race
PBS Documentary

In the 1990s, the race to work out the structure of DNA 50 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 endeavour that will take a decade to complete and cost billion 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.