Green is director of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda and was on the front line of the Human Genome Project from 1990 until scientists successfully determined the sequence of the roughly 3 billion chemical bases that make up human DNA in 2003.
Nine years after the successful sequencing of the human genome, what do you think about the way genomics has shaped science and medicine around the world?
What you've seen accomplished over the past nine years is spectacular. That first time we sequenced a human genome, it cost about $1 billion. Now, we can do it for less than $10,000. Meanwhile, we've used the past nine years to begin establishing what those 3 billion letters really mean.
What do you think the future holds for genomics?
People are using genomics for many things -- from agriculture to ancestry to medicine. ... As one example, we very much think genomics will be used to understand the molecular basis of cancer, including its diagnosis and eventually its treatment.
Did you have any idea the magnitude of what you were working on when you first got involved in the Human Genome Project?
I don't think any of us could have predicted we would be as far along as we are now. But that doesn't mean there's not a lot further to go on this journey. ... I was drawn in a magnetic way to this field, but couldn't then predict the path I was going to journey through.
What do you think about the human genome exhibit expected to open at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History next year?
We think genomics will be increasingly relevant to people. The human genome captures people's imagination, and we think the Smithsonian is a great place to showcase some of the most exciting science that's going on, especially science that relates to people's lives.
- Jacob Demmit