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Charles DeLisi Collection

Identifier: CDL

Scope and Content

This collection contains 31 pieces of correspondence, of which 20 were written to Dr. Mark Bitensky at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The majority of the letters are comments and input after the Human Genome Project meeting held in Santa Fe, New Mexico March 3-4, 1986. There are two items from Senator Peter Domenici, Republican state senator from New Mexico, an early proponent of the Human Genome Project.


  • Creation: 1983-1989


Access Restrictions

No restrictions apply to this collection. Access is given only by appointment, Monday through Friday 8:00 to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Use Restriction

Archival materials must remain in the archival reading area. Item duplication is to be done by archivists. Fees are applied to copies made. Digital photography is permitted by users.


Charles DeLisi is the Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering at Boston University. Prior to joining Boston University, he was Professor and Chair of Biomathematical Sciences and Professor of Molecular Biology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (1987–1989), Director of the United States Department of Energy's Health and Environmental Research Programs (1985–1987), Section Chief at National Institutes of Health (1975–1985), and Theoretical Division Staff Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (1972–1975).

In 1999 he initiated the Boston University graduate program in Bioinformatics, which now includes approximately 120 students and 50 faculty from across the university.

In 1985, as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Health and Environmental Research Programs, DeLisi and his advisors proposed, planned, and defended the Human Genome Project before the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. Despite a storm of controversy, it was included in President Ronald Reagan’s FY 1987 budget submission to Congress. It passed both the House and the Senate, the latter with the essential support of Senator Pete Domenici (R, NM).

DeLisi is recipient of numerous awards including the Presidential Citizens Medal, awarded to him by President Clinton for his seminal role in initiating the Human Genome Project.

Historical Note

The Human Genome Project was launched in 1986 by Charles DeLisi, who was then Director of the US Department of Energy's Health and Environmental Research Programs. He was later awarded the Citizen's medal by President Clinton for his seminal role in the Project. The goals and general strategy of the Project were outlined in a two-page memo to the Assistant Secretary in April 1986, which helped garner support from the DOE, the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Congress, especially Senator Pete Domenici. A series of Scientific Advisory meetings, and complex negotiations with senior Federal officials resulted in a line item for the Project in the 1987 Presidential budget submission to the Congress. Initiation of the Project was the culmination of several years of work supported by the US Department of Energy, in particular a feasibility workshop in 1986 and a subsequent detailed description of the Human Genome Initiative in a report that led to the formal sanctioning of the initiative by the Department of Energy.


3 Folders

Language of Materials



These files are the letters sent by attendees of the Santa Fe Workshop in 1986. These formed the basis of Dr. DeLisi’s memo to the Assistant Secretary proposing the project.

Arrangement Note

The letters arrived in a binder with clear sleeves in no organized order. The archivist put the letters in alphabetical order according to author.


Materials given to Mila Pollock, Executive Director of Library and Archives at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from Charles DeLisi in March 2008. Accession No. 2013_003. Processed in 2013.

Related Collections

Related collections in the CSHL Library and Archives are the James D. Watson Collection, the Sydney Brenner Collection and the Norton Tinder Collection.. DeLisi also participated in the CSHL Oral History Collection. His interview can be found at

Charles DeLisi Collection
Finding Aid Prepared by Clare Clark. Finding Aid Updated by Em Longan, June 2022.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Repository

Library & Archives
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
One Bungtown Rd
Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724 USA