Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

July 12, 2000 | Volume 1, Issue 3

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NIH and US Mint Join Forces On Genomic State Quarter Project

Map is just the beginning, say leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the heels of the recently completed Human Genome Project, researchers are feverishly preparing for a historic 5-year initiative which many experts believe holds even greater potential for intrigue and suspense.

Dubbed the "Genomic State Quarter (G.S.Q.) Project," the proposal calls for a multiphase joint venture involving the National Institute of Health and the United States Mint, and is estimated to require more than $100 billion in funding before its planned completion between 2005 and 2006.

Genomic State Quarter Map

According to Dr. Marvin Cassman, Chief of the N.I.H.'s General Medical Science Division and G.S.Q. Project spokesperson, the first phase will be the development of a large 36" by 24" cardboard coin holder in the shape of the United States, with 50 open quarter-sized slots.

This map, to be called the "Genomic State Quarter Map," is due for release later this month, and is expected to be similar to state quarter coin maps currently advertised on TV and in many drugstores. Recommended retailing pricing will begin at $15 each, with discounts given to schools and churches for bulk orders.

Insiders also speculate that a limited-time leather-bound collector's edition will be marketed on Q.V.C. in early October 2000 for about $30-40.

The G.S.Q.'s ambitious second phase, slated to begin in late summer 2000, will consist of the production and national distribution of 50 special "Genomic State Quarters." Each quarter will bear an artist's rendition of one the 50 most important events in the history of molecular and evolutionary biology, with one quarter to be released to the public each month.

Although the majority of the images to be used for these quarters have not been formally agreed upon, the first four to be released will consist of precision molecular models of the four original nucleic acids first described by J.D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick in the April 1953 issue of Nature Magazine: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine (though not necessarily in that order.)

The fifth quarter is likely to depict the likenesses of Watson and Crick themselves, drawn with unrealistically long noses intricately entwined in the "double helix" for which they are famous.

The subject of the sixth quarter has been hotly debated in the N.I.H. and in the U.S. Congress, with many top-level researchers at the N.I.H. of the viewpoint that the quarter should represent Gregor Mendel, the Augustinian monk whose seminal work with pea plants led to the theory of genetic inheritance.

Proposed Dolly-Bonnie Coin

However, a U.S. senatorial subcommittee led by Jesse Helms (R-NC) has strongly declared that Dolly, the first cloned sheep, and her daughter, Bonnie, should be commemorated instead.

"The sixth quarter's going to be released during the winter holidays," said Helms on Thursday. "Don't you think the children of America would prefer a cute little sheep, instead of some silly old moravian monk?"

When it was pointed out that American children do in fact prefer monks, Helms refused further comment.

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