||measure the expected increase in mutations in the surviving peoples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were subjected to the largest radiation experiment in history. Investigation of radiation damage was of both scientific and political interest. The DOE had been using relatively crude measures to document the expected increase in mutations among offspring of victims of the bombs, but none was demonstrable. What was needed was a more sensitive test. Here was a government project desperate for rescue. The real problem was that the base line, i.e. normal, rate of spontaneous mutations in humans was not known and could not be measured with existing techniques, so it was hard to determine whether or not the bombs had caused an increase in deleterious mutation unless the increase was huge. New approaches were needed. So the question was asked whether DNA sequences could be looked at directly to measure changes. How much DNA would have to be sequenced and how many people would have to be compared to arrive at an estimate of the natural mutation rate? The conclusion was clear: much more DNA sequencing would be required than any technology available at the time could hope to support. However, someone made the facetious suggestion that if we could just sequence a couple of whole genomes, then by comparison we would know. That idea, once sown, caused excitement about how incredible it would be to look at a whole sequence - a whole blueprint. The meeting ended with the original question swept up in the larger, radical challenge that the DOE should consider harnessing the technological infrastructure of the National Labs to improve sequencing technology, and even more, to take on the goal of obtaining the complete sequences for the human and other genomes. The issue was debated in the scientific community with ardent supporters and equally ardent opponents. The NIH initially declined interest in the project on the grounds that such technology development was not within their sphere and was best left to the National Labs. But the political winds began to blow favorably over DOE's move and NIH quickly rethought its position and did its best to become the "lead" agency for this new project. Jim Watson of helical fame led the NIH attack. In his inimitable style he skillfully generated national interest in the project. A cooperative agreement between the two agencies in 1988 solved the territorial problem and lead to their joint funding of research towards mutually acceptable goals starting in 1990. It was not an easy alliance. The different styles of the agencies and their leaders promoted deep mistrust and suspicion, aided by Watson's vigorous and colorful derision of the DOE National Labs. That uneasy alliance has now mellowed.