A new report from has said that the $3.8 billion investment in the Human Genome Project (HGP) has generated $796 billion in economic impact.
The economic modelling study was performed by Battelle, an independent scientific research and development organisation, and sponsored by Life Technologies Corp. It shows that every dollar invested in the US elements of the international HGP has generated $141 in the economy. It is estimated that in 2010 alone, academic and commercial genomic sequencing and research supported 310,000 jobs and generated $67 billion economic output.
This return on investment (ROI) is despite the fact that the major impacts of the HGP have yet to be realised, in terms of health and innovation, and the study authors conclude that the project is ‘arguably the single most influential investment to have been made in modern science’ and a crucial foundation for progress in biomedical research.
The report identifies expected future benefits from the HGP and concomitant developments in human, animal, plant and microbial genomics, including in agriculture and food production, biofuels and environmental measures such as synthetic organisms designed to reverse pollution.
Comment: This is a fascinating insight into direct and indirect positive financial impacts of the HGP, and provides a heartening counterpoint to the usual frustration that the medical benefits are much slower to materialise than originally hoped (largely because the human genome has proved to be vastly more complex than ever imagined). Of course, these estimates are just for the US; burgeoning genomics industries have also developed in the other HGP partner countries (the UK, China, Japan, Germany and France) as well as many more.