IBM and National Geographic are partnering on an ambitious project that aims to understand the paths that the human race took from our origins in Africa to migrate and populate the world.
This project is called the Genographic Project. It is a five year effort that plans to examine the DNA of hundreds of thousands of individuals and processing the data through Big Blue's powerful hardware and software.
The really neat thing for an individual is the ability to participate and discover where your ancestors came from. Now you may be saying like, "well, I know my ancestors came to America from Ireland in the mid-19th century". That's all well and good, but this project aims to discover where your ancestors were 10,000 years ago, not 200 years ago. For instance, Nick Donofrio, IBM's senior VP of Manufacturing and Technology, was well aware of his southern Italian background, but through the Genographic project, discovered that his ancient ancestors lived in ancient Persia (modern day Iran).
You can participate by purchasing an order kit from the Genographic web site for about $100. This isn't cheap but hey, you're contributing to an important research project and you may find out something very surprising about your ancestors.
I got my kit about two weeks ago and collected my DNA over the weekend. It's very simple; you just swab your cheek with a stick they provide, put the samples in an envelope they provide, and look up your sample ID on the Internet a few months later.
When I get my results back, I'll post a link here, in case you're interested in seeing what sample analysis results look like. My current understanding is that I'm a typical American mutt; part Irish, part German, part Danish; it's going to be very interesting to me to find out the deeper origins.
Whether or not you're interested in participating, I recommend you have a look at some of the project information on the Genographic web site. It's a fascinating undertaking. Some links:
PS - Since IBM is a co-sponsor of this effort, IBMers can participate at a slight discount. The link to the discount is available from this page on the IBM intranet (note that this link won't work if you're not an IBMer connected to the intranet via VPN).
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