Victory for Venter

His outfit sequences our genome--but it will take years to decode

As rumors of success began leaking out last week, shares of stock in Celera Genomics, of Rockville, Md., moved sharply higher. And when the news was announced on Thursday, presidential science adviser Neil Lane hailed it as "a very significant achievement." That was an understatement. Under the leadership of its brash, brilliant president, Craig Venter, Celera had beaten a big-budget, government-funded program in the race to sequence the human genome--to spell out the molecular "letters" that make up the genetic code embedded in our DNA.

That's a major milestone. Once scientists know how each human gene works and how it can...

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