Doctoral Dissertation Research: Impact of the Human Genome Project on Scientific Discovery and Industry Evolution

Project Details


In March 2000, the Human Genome Project (HGP), the world's largest, publicly funded, collaborative biology project sequenced and released the first map of the human genome. This important development in human biology was aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of basic biological mechanisms, change how new drugs were discovered and improve medical care. The human genome is a digital map of 3 billion DNA base pairs revealing the location and identity of genes, which encode various proteins in cells and allow for a high level of specificity in the search for disease targets. The scientific approach was radically different from existing discovery paradigms. The attractiveness of a free genome map along with its predictive search capabilities lowered barriers to entry, leading to a sharp increase in new firm formation and entrepreneurship. The map, in effect, changed how firms searched for drugs and altered the competitive nature of the industry. Changes in the nature of discovery due to the Human Genome Project provide a unique opportunity to study the process of technological search under different informational and technological contexts and can inform the role of government-funded projects in providing economic and public health benefit.

This study analyzes incumbent firms, new entrants and universities, and their R&D projects in granular detail to shed light on how the human genome map impacted the exploration of new drugs and diseases, and trajectory of the biopharmaceutical industry. The project constructs an original and unique database of small molecule drug patents to trace the trajectories of search and evolution of R&D projects before and after the HGP. The project links powerful computational techniques from text-mining and chemical/bio informatics with genomics and clinical trial databases to provide a rich, multi-level analysis of firm search behavior in the context of technological change. The project demonstrates how the availability of predictive, large-scale search capabilities changed firm?s innovative behavior.

Effective start/end date6/1/175/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $21,650.00


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