The Genographic Project

Here is a project that you may want to consider. National Geographic and IBM have teamed up to study DNA samples from around the world. Their goal is to map the human genetic journey over more than 150,000 years. For a cost of roughly $100. USD, you can get a kit complete with CD, brochures, and material to provide your own DNA as part of the study. You will be given a confidential code so that you can access your own genetic ancestry online: as more data becomes available your own lineage will develop as an increasingly complex interaction.

To quote the project brochure: this is "an ambitious attempt to help answer fundamental questions about where we originated, how we came to populate the earth, and why we now look so different from each other." Multiple questions will be probed, such as how we developed so many linguistic patterns, what was the role of the Silk Road with its bazaars and caravans in spreading human branching, and do the genetic markers that are revealed coordinate with the songs of the Australian Aborigines about their mythical ancestors?

The project is headed by Dr. Spencer Wells, author of "The Journey of Man" and presenter of the PBS/National Geographic Channel film of the same name. His goal is no less than to create a genetic photograph of the human species, from its beginnings in the African Savannah through its multiple cross-fertilizations to its current diversity. IBM's Computational Biology Center will be used for the scientific research in conjunction with the University of Arizona's Research Laboratories.

The kits, called "Public Participation Kits" are simple to use, with clear instructions. Several weeks after you return your DNA kit, your coded information will be available online at http://www.nationalgeographic.com Your results will indicate what branch of the human genetic tree your ancestors came from and where their migrations took them. It could be a priceless inheritance for your offspring, as well as a fascinating look into your own ancestral past.

c.Corinne Whitaker 2005