Billions of dollars and a decade of work finally paid off for scientists, who have completed a rough map of the human genetic code, a milestone using computer technology that is expected to pave the way for a new age in medicine.
At a White House ceremony, President Clinton called the achievement "a day for the ages."
The breakthrough of mapping more than 90 percent of human DNA came after rival government and private entities agreed to collaborate earlier this year. The venture had been a fight between the publicly financed Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health and the private effort by Celera Genomics Corp. in Maryland.
U.S. scientists said the resulting draft of the genetic book of life opens the doors to achieving individualized medical care.
"We have the potential to reduce the number of cancer deaths to zero," said J. Craig Venter, who heads Celera Genomics.
The public project is a joint effort of NIH, the Energy Department, several universities and the Wellcome Trust in England. Scientists in Germany and Japan also participated.