Celera Genomics was established in May 1998 by the PE Corporation (now Applera Corporation) and Dr. J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., a leading genomic scientist and founder of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). While at TIGR, Dr. Venter led the first successful effort to sequence an entire organism's genome, that of the H. influenzae bacterium. Deriving its name from the Latin word for swiftness, Celera was formed for the purpose of generating and commercializing genomic information to accelerate the understanding of biological processes.
Celera Genomics researchers were among the first to show the reliability of the whole genome shotgun strategy for sequencing both prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. This is in contrast with the public domain initiatives, such as the Human Genome Project, which were based on a slower but safer clone by clone sequencing strategy. Celera mapped the human genome at a fraction of the cost of the taxpayer-funded project. However, some researchers have expressed doubts about the overall quality of Celera's genome sequences.
Critics of initial efforts by Celera Genomics to hold back data from sections of genome they sequenced for commercial exploitation felt that it would retard progress in science as a whole. These critics pointed to the open access policy for gene sequences from the publicly-funded Human Genome Project. Later, the company changed their policy and made their sequences available freely but set a maximum threshold for amount of sequence data a researcher could download at any given time.
The rise and fall of Celera as an ambitious competitor of the Human Genome Project is the main subject of the book The Genome War by James Shreeve .
Genomes sequenced by Celera Genomics
- Haemophilus influenzae genome