The International HapMap Project is a multi-country effort to identify and catalog genetic similarities and differences in human beings. Using the information in the HapMap, researchers will be able to find genes that affect health, disease, and individual responses to medications and environmental factors. The Project is a collaboration among scientists and funding agencies from Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Nigeria, and the United States. [See Participating Groups and Initial Planning Groups.] All of the information generated by the Project will be released into the public domain.
The goal of the International HapMap Project is to compare the genetic sequences of different individuals to identify chromosomal regions where genetic variants are shared. [See What is the HapMap?] By making this information freely available, the Project will help biomedical researchers find genes involved in disease and responses to therapeutic drugs. [See How Will the HapMap Benefit Human Health?] In the initial phase of the Project, genetic data are being gathered from four populations with African, Asian, and European ancestry. Ongoing interactions with members of these populations are addressing potential ethical issues and providing valuable experience in conducting research with identified populations.
Public and private organizations in six countries are participating in the International HapMap Project. Data generated by the Project can be downloaded with minimal constraints. [See Data Release Policies.] The Project officially started with a meeting in October 2002 (http://genome.gov/10005336) and is expected to take about three years.