The Neurosciences Go Mega

Although the 1990s had been titled the Decade of the Brain, mega-science projects, long familiar in physics and astronomy, were slow to arrive in the neurosciences. The first giant life science project had been built on the revolution in genetics with the plan to sequence the 3 billion DNA bases of the human genome, at a neatly matching cost of $3 billion. To convince potential backers that the human genome project (HGP) could and would deliver, its advocates invoked the success of the gigantic 1940s Manhattan Project with its delivery of the atomic bomb. To win public and political support, the molecular biologists claimed that sequencing the genome would lead not only to new scientific knowledge, but also the power to generate new gene therapies and tailor-made drugs for hitherto…

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