On this day 15 years ago, The Human Genome Project announced it had finally reached its goal of sequencing the 3 billion DNA letters in the human genome. Considered to be one of the most ambitious scientific undertakings of all time—even compared to splitting the atom—Dr. Francis Collins led the 13-year international project coordinated by the U.S. government. All the data from the unique collaboration was published online–for free to anyone, even though it cost $3 billion in mostly U.S. funding. Thanks to the work of these one thousand scientists, we now have a way to target cancer and other diseases without harming healthy cells. WATCH Collins talk about the practical applications… (2003)

Collins, the American physician-geneticist had earned a reputation as a ‘gene hunter’ earlier, when he discovered the specific genes associated with a number of diseases. He later wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Language of God.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Harriet Tubman began her Underground Railroad, helping slaves to escape (1853)
  • In Gothenburg, Sweden, the first Volvo automobile is unveiled (1927)
  • John Steinbeck‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath was published, a story he wrote after interviewing displaced migrants who escaped the Dust Bowl in the Midwestern United States during the Great Depression (1939)
  • Ampex Corp demonstrated the first commercial videotape recorder, which would, among other things, lead to an explosion of television news gathering (1956)
  • President Richard Nixon ended a blockade against China (1971)
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled that people may refuse to display a state motto on their license plate—by taping over it, for instance (1977)
  • The first Space Shuttle Columbia made a picture perfect landing on a runway to validate the genius of a reusable rocket (1981)
  • The Soviet Union pledged, at a UN ceremony in Geneva, to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan (1988)

And, on this day in 1866, Anne Sullivan was born, the gifted teacher of the blind who famously broke through to Helen Keller and taught her how to speak and read and write.800px-Portrait_of_Anne_Sullivan,_circa_1887

Sullivan lost most of her eyesight to disease while growing up, which made it easy for her, at age 20, to relate to her famous pupil. Their story was portrayed in the 1962 award-winning film “The Miracle Worker,” based on The Story of My Life, the 1902 autobiography of Helen Keller… This film clip below from The Miracle Worker, recalls their first lesson, the breakthrough when Keller learns the words CAKE and DOLL…

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