The History of HUGO 

The Human Genome Organisation

History, Purposes and Membership - Dr. Victor A. McKusick, 1989, Genomics

The Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) was conceived in later April 1988, at the first meeting on genome mapping and sequencing at Cold Spring Harbor. For some time, as the genome initiatives got under way in individual nations, the need for an international coordinating scientific body has been under discussion. The idea of HUGO was particularly Sydney Brenner's, He also suggested the name of the organisation and its rather felicitous acronym. 

At a rump session called to discuss the proposal at Cold Spring Harbor on April 30, 1988, Victor McKusick (Baltimore) was asked to serve as founding president. A Founding Council was assembled from among those at the Cold Spring Harbor meeting, supplemented by others, to a total of 42 scientists from 17 countries. In early September 1988, 31 of these scientists met in Montreux, Switzerland, at a hotel within sight of the historic Chateau de Chillion. The members of the Founding Council are indicated by an asterisk in the list of HUGO members at the end. The officers elected at Montreux were as follows: Victor A. McKusick, President; Walter Bodmer, Jean Dausset, and Kenichi Matsubara, Vice Presidents; John Tooze, Secretary; Walter Gilbert, Treasurer (resigned February 15, 1989); and Charles Cantor, Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, Leroy Hood, Lennart Philipson, and Frank Ruddle, Eletced Members to Executive Committee.

HUGO is incorporated in Geneva, Switzerland. As stated in its Articles of Association, "membership of HUGO shall be open to all persons concerned with the human genome or other scientific subjects related to it". It was decided in Montreux to follow an academy model, i.e. to have a limited and elected membership. In elections conducted by mail during the 5 months after Montreux, 178 additional members of HUGO were chosen, bringing the total to 220. The members were drawn from 23 countries; namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, East Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, USA, USSR and West Germany. The full membership list is given at the end of this article. 

In the words of Norton Zinder, a member of the Founding Council, HUGO is a "U.N. for the human genome". As stated in the Articles and Bylaws, its purposes are as follows: 

    • to assist with the coordination of research on the human genome and in particular to foster collaboration between scientists with a view to avoiding unnecessary competition or duplication of effort, and to coordinate this research with parallel studies in model organisms;
    • to coordinate and to facilitate the exchange data and biomaterials relevant to human genome research and through a training program, encourage the spreading of related technologies; 
    • to encourage public debate and provide information and advice on the scientific, ethical, social, legal, and commercial implications of human genome projects.
The coordinating functions of HUGO have three dimensions: international, interdisciplinary, and interspecies. The coordination among nations has its counterparts in the coordination desirable among scientists working on genetic mapping and those working on physical mapping and sequencing and among scientists working on the genomes of various model organisms. Thus far, standing committees on physical mapping, databases, and the mouse genome have been set up. By mutual agreement of the executive committees of HUGO and the Human Gene Mapping Workshops (HGMW) is to become a component of HUGO. 

For the conduct of business of HUGO, three regional offices are being established. The North American office is located in Bethesda, Maryland; the European office in London, UK; and the Pacific office in Osaka, Japan. 

To this point, financing of HUGO has come from several nongovernmental foundations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, and the Wesley Foundation. Multinational governmental funding for HUGO is now being sought. 

*Genomics 5, 385-387 (1989), reproduced by permission of the author.

HUGO Membership (as of early 1989) 
Those in bold and marked with a * are members of the founding council. 


Bruce M. Alberts, USAWalter Gehring, SwitzerlandDavid Patterson, USAStylianos E. Antonarakis, Switzerland
 Richard Gelinas, USAMark L. Pearson, USANorman Arnheim, USAGeorgy P. Georgiev, USSR 
Peter L. Pearson*, The Netherlands Michael Ashburner, UKRaymond F. Gesteland, USAUlf Pettersson*, Sweden
 Philip Avner, FranceWalter Gilbert*, USALennart Philipson*, West Germany Richard Axel, USA
Walter Goad, USA Richard Roberts, USA Francisci J. Ayala, USAJoseph L. Goldstein, USA 
Elizabeth B. Robson*, UK David Baltimore, USAPeter N. Goodfellow, UKThomas H. Roderick, USA 
Bart G. Barrell, UKYoram Groner, IsraelGiovanni Romeo, ItalyAlexander A. Bayev, USSR 
Francois Gros, FranceHans-Hilger Ropers, The Netherlands Arthur L. Beaudet, USA Frank Groveld, UK 
Leon E. Rosenburg, USA Paul Berg, USA Karl-Heinz Grzescgik*, West Germany  Janet D. Rowley, USA
Kare Berg, NorwayJames F. Guselle, USA Frank H. Ruddle*, USA Georgio Bernadi, France 
John L. Hamerton, Canada Yoshiyuki Sakaki, Japan Adrian Bird, Austria Nicholas Hastie, UK 
Joseph Sambrook, USA Frecerick R. Blattner, USA Michael Hayden, Canada Federick Sanger, UK (Declined) 
Walter Bodmer*, UKBernard Hirt*, SwitzerlandDavid Schlessinger, USA Lars Bolund, Denmark 
Tasuku Honjo*, JapanCharles R. Scriver, Canada  Piet Boorst*, The NetherlandsLeroy E. Hood*, USA
 Peter Seeburg, West GermanyDirk Bootsma, The Netherlands  David E. Housman, USASusan W. Serjeantson, Australia 
David Botstein, USA Peter Humphries, Ireland
Nobuyoshi Shimizu*, JapanSydney Brenner*, UK 
Michael Hunkapiller, USAThomas B. Shows*, USA Roy J. Britten, USAYoji Ikawa, Japan
Louis Siminovitch, CanadaMichael S. Brown, USA Francois Jacob*, France Maxine F. Singer, USA 
William R.A. Brown, UK Alec J. Jeffreys, UK Marcello Siniscalco, USA W. Ted Brown, USA
Nancy A. Jenkins*, USA Robert L. Sinsheimer, USAGeorge Brownlee, UK Trefor Jenkins, South Africa 
Mark H. Skolnick, USAGail A.P. Bruns, USABertrand Jordan, FranceCassandra Smith, USA 
George F. Cahill, Jr.*, USA ZFotis C. Kafatos*, Greece Cedric A.B. Smith, UK
Graham Cameron, West Germany
Y.W. Kan, USAOliver Smithies, USA Howard M. Cann, France Minoru Kanehisa, Japan 
Ellen SOlomon, UK Charles R. Cantor*, USA Haig H. Kazazian, Jr., USAEdwin M. Southern*, UK 
Mario Capecchi, USA Kenneth R. Kidd, USA Michel Steinmetz, Switzerland C. Thomas Caskey*, USA 
 Lev L. Kisselev, USSAJohn Silston, UK Bruce Cattanach, UK George Klein*, Sweden 
Grant R. Sutherland*, Australia Luca Cavalli-Sforza, USA Yuji Kohara, UK Eugene D. Sverdlov, USSR 
Webster K. Cavenee*, Canada Raju S. Kucherlapati, USA Glenys Thomson, USA Howard Cedar, Israel 
Louis M. Kunkel, USA Shirley Tilghman, USA  Pierre Chambon*, FrancePeter A. Lalley, USA 
Glauco Tocchine-Valentine*, Italy Verne M. Chapman, USA Jean-Marc Lalouel, USA Susumu Tonegawa, USA 
George Church, USA Eric Lander, USA John Tooze*, West Germany Daniel Cohen, France
Mark Lathrop, FranceLap-Chee Tsui, Canada Francis S. Collins*, USADavid H. Ledbetter, USA 
Christoper Tyler-Smith, UK John Collins, West Germany Philip Leder, USA Nguyen Van Cong, France 
P. Michael Conneally, USA Hans Lehrach, UK Herman van den Berghe, Belgium Howard J. Cooke, UK 
Leonard S. Lerman, USA Alex van der Eb, The Netherlands Andrew Coulson, UK Peter Little, UK 
Marvin van Dilla, USA Charles Coutelle, East Germany Mary Lyon*, UK Gert Jan van Ommen, The Netherlands 
David R. Cox, USA Jacob V. Maizel, USA Akiyoshi Wada, Japan Diane W. Cox, Canada 
Jean-Louis Mandel, FranceDouglas C. Wallace, USAIan Craig, UKTom Maniatis, USA 
Dorothy Warburtin, USA Jean Dausset*, France Kenichi Matsubara*, Japan John J. Wasmuth, USA 
Kay E. Davies, UK Allan M. Maxam, USA James D. Watson*, USA Ronald W. Davies, USA 
Phyllis J. McAlpine, Canada David Weatherall*, UK Muriel Davisson, USA Victor A. McKusick*, USA 
Robert A. Weinberg, USA Larry L. Deaven, USA P. Meera Kahn, The Netherlands Jean Weissenbach, France 
Albert de la Chapelle, Finland O.J. Miller, USA Sherman M. Weissman, USA Helen Donis-Keller, USA
Andrei D. Mirzabekov*, USSRCharles Weissmann, Switzerland Ford Doolittle, USA Jan Mohr, Denmark 
Raymond L. Whoite, USA Renato Dulbecco*, USA Newton Morton, UK Michael Wigler, USA 
John H. Edwards, UK Robert Moyzis, USA Huntington F. Willard, Canada Argiris Efstratiadis, USA 
Daniel Nathans, USA Robert T. Williamson, UK H. John Evans, UK Susumu Nishimura, Japan 
Allan C. Wilson, USA Marc Fellous, France S. Numan, Japan Ernst L. Winnacker, West Germany 
Malcolm A. Ferguson-Smith*, UK Robert L. Nussbaum, USA Savios L.C. Woo, USA Walter Fiers, Belgium 
Stephen J. O'Brien, USA Ronald G. Worton*, Canada Uta Francke, USA Michio Oishi, Japan 
Mitsuaki Yoshida, Japan Jean Frezal*, France Maynard Olson, USA Hans G. Zachau, West Germany 
Theodore Friedmann, USA Stuart H. Orkin, USA Norton D. Zinder*, USA Anna-Marie Frischauf, UK 
Jurg Ott, USA Harald zur Hausen*, West Germany Antonio Garcia-Bellido, Spain David C. Page, USA 
Tobias Gedde-Dahl, Jr., Norway Mary Lou Pardue, USA   

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