For the first time, a network of some 100 research laboratories has completely unravelled the genome of a complex living organism, in this case yeast. This scientific achievement is largely the result of a project funded by the European Commission, which began seven years ago. Almost 100 European laboratories, working in coordination with each other and with US, Canadian and Japanese laboratories participated in the research. A network strategy was used to organize the work amongst the participating laboratories. The initial project, begun in 1989, involved 37 laboratories. This network established the full sequence of chromosome III in 1992. At that time it was the largest continuous DNA sequence known. The project was then extended to include all the chromosomes in yeast, some 16 in total. The information collected throughout the network was assembled in the correct sequence by the Martinsried Institute for Protein Sequence in Germany. The research on yeast will be of immense value to the medical community, since over 50% of the 6,000 genes identified proved to be very similar to human genes. The information collected about these genes will be used to open up new avenues of research into cancers and other human diseases. The results will also be of interest to food scientists, given the primary use of yeast. Commission funding was responsible for 55% of the yeast genome sequence, with ECU 17.1 million coming from the Community's specific RTD programmes in the field of biotechnology, BRIDGE and BIOTECH. The European Community, again through the BIOTECH programme, is contributing to the next stage of research, that of connecting each gene to its function. This work is being carried out by another network of 144 laboratories called EUROFAN.