The $3.8 billion the US government invested in the Human Genome Project (HGP) from 1988 to 2003 helped drive $796 billion in economic impact and the generation of $244 billion in total personal income, according to a new study by Battelle, the independent research organisation.
In 2010 alone, human genome sequencing projects and associated genomics research and industry activity directly and indirectly generated $67 billion in US economic output and underpinned 310,000 jobs, paying salaries with a combined value of $20 billion. At the same time genomics-enabled industry paid $3.7 billion in federal taxes in 2010.
Along with this significant financial contribution, the report also outlines significant breakthroughs the Human Genome Project has made possible in the first ten years since the reference human genomes were published. These include new approaches to personalised medicine, greater productivity in agriculture and potential new sources of renewable energy.
The study says significantly more jobs will created in the future as new companies and new industries continue to form around the expanded knowledge of human DNA, model organism genomes and advances in genomics technology.
“From a simple return on investment, the financial stake made in mapping the entire human genome is clearly one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars the US government has ever made,” according to Greg Lucier, CEO of Life Technologies Inc, a manufacturer of sequencing equipment, which sponsored the analysis. “This project has been, and will continue to be, the kind of investment the government should foster…ones with tangible returns.”
Lucier added that, “The initial dollar investment has already been returned to the government via $49 billion paid in taxes. Now we sit at the dawn of the genomics revolution and all humankind will reap the benefits as we transfer what we now know about the human genome into major breakthroughs including: new forms of personalised medicine …..”
Simon Tripp, Senior Director of Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice, and co-author of the report, said high-speed sequencing and advancements in genomic data analysis are empowering unprecedented advancements in biological sciences and being applied to pressing issues in human health and medicine, feeding a rapidly expanding global population, developing advanced biofuels, and protecting the environment.
“The ability of modern science to address these large-scale issues via genomics stands as testimony to the vision and foresight shown by HGP supporters, leaders and participants,” said Tripp.
While the financial returns are already tangible, with every $1 of federal investment in the human genome project contributing to the generation of $141 in the economy, the impacts of the human genome sequencing are just beginning, with large scale benefits in medicine and many other diverse applications still in their early stages.