From the National Institutes of Health Office of NIH History: The Human Genome Project (HGP) was launched in the 1980s as an organized effort to provide the information researchers need to understand the genetic basis of all disease. A genome is all the genetic information that makes an organism. The HGP, completed in April 2003, mapped the location of each of the genes in the human genome and sequenced--decoded--each gene's instruction. The project was overseen by both the NIH and the Department of Energy.
The HGP project was important because the genome it identified was kept in the public domain. Significant and creative programming efforts by HGP collaborators allowed the genome to be identified on a timely basis.