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NHGRI launches


The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) launched a totally redesigned Web site today with a new Internet address - The streamlined Web site address makes it easy for users to access a comprehensive and authoritative government site focused on genomic research, including the international Human Genome Project slated for completion in April 2003. The new Web site supports ongoing scientific studies by researchers inside and outside of the institute as well as providing a reliable source of genomic information for a wide range of audiences, including individuals with genetic disorders and their families, teachers and students and the general public. Links on the home page connect users to other federal government sources for information about genomics.

"This new site will make it easy for anyone interested in genome science to find answers to many of their questions," said institute Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The Web team has worked hard to provide an intuitive structure for the large amount of scientific information developed by the institute’s scientists. The well-organized links between higher-level pages and the information within the site make it simple for users to find what they are looking for. Besides, the new site looks very cool."

The architecture of the new site organizes the institute’s information into seven major categories. More than one-third of the pages can be found in the Research section of the site, providing an overview of the institute’s scientific activities. This section includes an overview of the Human Genome Project, an international, multi-year effort of exploration designed to help scientists understand the genetic makeup of humans and to help researchers find new ways to diagnose and treat illnesses. The Research section also includes a complete description of the research program carried out by the institute’s scientists working on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and an extensive collection of online resources, ranging from scientific databases to software tools to links to other genome research centers around the world.

The site also includes the following sections:

Health: The Health section provides users with instructions on how to use the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, a resource where patients and families can get answers to questions about genetic and rare diseases. NHGRI and the NIH Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) jointly run the center. In addition, this section provides a list of frequently asked questions about genetic disorders, background information on various genetic illnesses, information on clinical trials and links to many online health information resources.

Policy and Ethics: NHGRI is unique because it commits 5 percent of its budget to the consideration of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) raised by genetic and genomic research. The institute’s ELSI program has funded research on these issues for more than a decade. NHGRI’s Office of the Director works to raise public and professional awareness of important genetic policy issues, such as genetic privacy and discrimination. The Policy and Ethics section of the Web site provides a rich resource of information about these complex problems.

Educational Resources: NHGRI also supports educational programs on genetics and genomics. This part of the site provides many educational resources, including the talking glossary of genetic terms, an online education kit, fact sheets, links to online resources and information about professional training, career development and summer internships.

Careers and Training: NHGRI provides specific support for professional training both in academic research centers around the United States as well as within the institute’s own laboratories. Programs range from Pre-doctoral Intramural Research Training Awards to the Visiting Investigator Program to the Physician Scientist Development Program and the unique Johns Hopkins University Genetic Counselor Graduate Training Program in which Masters degree students study and conduct research at NHGRI.

Grants: NHGRI awards approximately 80 percent of the institute’s annual appropriations from Congress to scientists around the country and the world. The Grants section of the site announces new areas in which the institute is investing money and gives specific instructions on how to apply for grants.

Newsroom: The Newsroom is a ready resource for print and broadcast reporters and editors to find descriptions of the latest scientific advances by the institute’s scientists. It also contains background fact sheets, a calendar of events and other media resources, such as speeches, testimony and webcasts.

About NHGRI: This section provides a descriptive overview of the institute, its history and structure, mission and goals, long-range planning efforts and activities of interest to minorities.

This is the first overhaul of the institute’s Web site since 1997. Even before the Web browser Netscape was released in October 1994, NHGRI used the growing network of computers that would become the Internet to share scientific information. In fact, in early 1993, institute scientists produced a report card showing how extensively newly created genetic markers covered human chromosomes and served that information to the research community from a workstation sitting on a staff member’s desk. By 1994, NHGRI, then the National Center for Human Genome Research, launched its first full-fledged Web site. That site underwent a substantial redesign three years later. This launch represents the first significant update of the information, organization and design of the old site, which had been located at The old Web address will be maintained to redirect bookmarked links to pages on the new Web site.

The new site demonstrates NHGRI’s commitment to ensuring that all users have easy access to the institute’s information, including those with special needs. Additional services will be added to the new Web site, including a visual media database that will allow users to download high-resolution scientific images and illustrations and multimedia and video-streaming services.

Geoff Spencer | EurekAlert!
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