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Genographic Story
Introduction   |   Genographic Story   |   Global Field Research
The Genographic Legacy Fund   |   Public Participation   |   IBM's Role  


The Great Human Adventure

The Great Human Adventure Humans are found everywhere on earth. How did we get here? Where did we come from? Why do we all look so different?

To better answer these questions, IBM and National Geographic Society have launched the Genographic Project.

This five-year study will create and use one of the largest databases of DNA samples ever assembled, to map how the Earth was populated.

Explore the Genographic Project and learn how to be part of this great adventure.

This project aims at understanding the migratory patterns and origins of all people by using information obtained from DNA samples from around the world.

Scientists will use unique markers found in human DNA that act as the equivalent of ancestral markers of descent: each identifies progressively more ancient lineages. They can be painstakingly traced deeper and deeper, down branching pathways to the earliest layers of our ancestry. By comparing DNA samples from different populations, a shape begins to emerge - the shape of the human family tree.

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The DNA Connection

The DNA Connection Some components of our genetic inheritance remain relatively stable over the course of generations. Rare mutations in these components are easily identified and accumulate in a particular order and rate. When compared across a broad spectrum of DNA samples, they act as a time line. These “genetic markers” are passed on to each generation.

Over time, different populations accumulate their own distinctive set of markers that act as the equivalent of ancestral markers of descent. Each identifies progressively more ancient lineages

By comparing DNA samples from different populations, patterns emerge that help reveal the human family tree as encoded in our genes. To identify and analyze these patterns, the project team is gathering genetic data from the peoples of the world, as well as associated geographic, anthropological and cultural data. It is hoped that this effort will help us gain new insights into the emergence of humanity’s diverse tapestry.

A haplogroup consists of a pattern of genetic markers which may be representative of certain populations.

Each of us has specific markers in our DNA that indicate which haplogroup we are part of. This information reveals our individual deep ancestry. As the project advances over its five-year term, we hope to make further progress in our understanding of humanity's migration across the planet, and will be transferring that knowledge at ever greater levels of detail for each haplogroup.

While the field of genetic anthropology is young, scientists have gathered enough samples over the last few decades to identify the fifty or so haplogroups to which we can collectively trace our ancestry. As genetic data is analyzed, we will learn more about the history of our species, making this project an ongoing voyage of discovery.

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Your Personal Journey

Your Personal Journey It is not often that the public has a chance to participate in a worldwide scientific effort. But through the Genographic Project, you can, in essence, become an associate explorer on the team.

By purchasing a public participation kit through the Genographic Web site, you are able to provide your own genetic sample, securely and anonymously.

Once you provide a DNA sample to the Genographic Project, it is analyzed to reveal the haplogroup to which you belong. Your haplogroup is the collective history of humans sharing the same DNA markers.

Your results are posted only for you to see using a secure access code. If you lose this code, you will be unable to access your results, which contain a detailed explanation of your haplogroup. You can also find the timeline and journey of your ancestors on the map.

As the project evolves and more data accumulates, more information may be revealed about your origins, making it an ongoing discovery.

The sample will be analyzed for genetic markers found in either mitochondrial DNA or on the Y chromosome, depending on your gender. The analysis of your confidential sample cannot reveal personal information about you or your family, and the markers tested are strictly migratory and non-medical in nature.

Once your sample is processed, access your results in complete anonymity by entering your Genographic Project Identification Number onto a secure Web page.

View your own ancestral pattern online. As the project amasses more data from others in your haplogroup, your profile could become more detailed.

Proceeds from the sale of the Genographic Participation Kits will help fund future field research and a Legacy Fund that will support education and cultural preservation projects among participating and other indigenous groups.

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Learn about the project’s extensive field research
Find out how you can participate
Your personal results are completely confidential
Sent in your kit? See your personal results
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The Genographic Project
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Discover humanity's great journey.

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A research partnership of  National Geographic and IBM
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