Francis Collins ended months of uncertainty by saying that hewill be running the Human Genome Project at the NationalInstitutes of Health. "Within the next 48 hours, I will become afederal employee," Collins said at Nature Genetics firstinternational conference.

Collins had agreed "in principle" to accept the post in December.

It was an offer he said he couldn't refuse. "The consequencesfor understanding human biology and medicine areunprecedented.

"Over the next few months, I will take the temperature of thegenome project," Collins said. "Hopefully, by late summer wewill come up with a revised version of the five-year plan. Ithink there is a general sense that with technology gettingbetter, and the goals that have been achieved, we could startpaying attention more to where the genes are and not justgenerating the physical maps," he said.

"I think we're still hoping for new technology that will make itpossible to do this imaginably over the next five to 10 yearswithout having to pay quite so much," he said. "But advanceshave been made steadily, chipping away at time and cost, and Ithink it would be possible by the 15-year timetable."

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.