We have already approved over 24,000 symbols; the vast majority of these are for protein-coding genes, but also include symbols for pseudogenes, non-coding RNAs, phenotypes and genomic features (see HGNC Search). Our current priority is assigning nomenclature to genes submitted to us from the Human Genome Project. In addition to this, individual new symbols are requested by scientists, journals (e.g. Genomics, Nature Genetics) and databases (e.g. Ensembl, Entrez Gene, MGD, RGD and OMIM), and groups of new symbols by those working on gene families, chromosome segments or whole chromosomes. In all cases considerable efforts are made to use a symbol acceptable to workers in the field.
Problems of nomenclature in human genetics were recognised as early as the 1960s and in 1979 full guidelines for human gene nomenclature were presented at the Edinburgh Human Genome Meeting (HGM). Since then we have continued to strike a compromise between the convenience and simplicity required for the everyday use of human gene nomenclature and the need for adequate definition of the concepts involved.
The committee has grown from a single force (Dr Phyllis J. McAlpine) to a team of post-docs and bioinformaticians. For eleven years, from 1996-2007, the HGNC was chaired by Professor Sue Povey and based at University College London (UCL). In September 2007 the HGNC relocated to the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), to join the PANDA (Protein and Nucleotide Database) group. We regularly attend international meetings such as American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and Human Genome Meeting (HGM), and sometimes hold workshops in conjunction with these. This ensures that we are approving gene names in line with the needs of the scientific community, see previous workshops.
We are a non-profit making body which is jointly funded by the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the Wellcome Trust (UK). We operate under the auspices of HUGO, with key policy advice from an International Advisory Committee (IAC). We also use a team of specialist advisors who provide support on specific gene family nomenclature issues, and work in close collaboration with staff at MGNC.
All enquiries are handled confidentially and unpublished information is never disclosed without explicit permission from the submitters.