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The Human Genome Project provides fertile ground for studying the role of intellectual property at the wavering boundary between public and private research science. It involves a major commitment of both public and private research funds in an area that is of significant interest both to research scientists working in university and government laboratories and to commercial firms. It thus provides a wealth of new scientific discoveries that are simultaneously potential candidates for commercial development and inputs into further research. Its obvious implications for human health raise the stakes of getting the balance between private property and public access right, particularly at a time when public attention is riveted upon the rising costs of health care. It profoundly affects the interests of the young biotechnology industry as well as the more established pharmaceutical industry, and thus offers an opportunity to compare the perspectives of two very different types of commercial firms. Moreover, intellectual property issues have been unusually conspicuous in the recent history of advances in the emerging field of "genomics," even by the standards of the patent-weary genetics and molecular biology communities.