Twenty years of decoding the human genome, and the mystery of our species continues

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On February 16, 2001, the reviews Nature and Science published a revolutionary breakthrough: for the first time, researchers had managed to read the great book of the human genome! That is 3.2 billion “chemical letters” engraved on two meters of compacted DNA. Twenty years later, in its issue of February 4, Science looks back on this incredible saga.

The feat announced twenty years ago by the great rivals of scientific publishing stems from two opposing approaches. Nature publishes the work of an international consortium of several thousand academic researchers, the famous Human Genome Project (HGP), coordinated by the American geneticist Francis Collins. Science, she announces the result of a maverick, the biotechnologist Craig Venter, supported by a hundred researchers from the private sector.