Skip to main content
    Country/region [select]      Terms of use
     Home      Products      Services & solutions      Support & downloads      My account     

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


Your Participation Matters!

Your Participation Matters! You are already part of this great adventure. Your DNA holds the markers that can reveal the journey of your ancestors.

Purchase a Participation Kit, (US$99.95, plus shipping and handling), and submit your own cheek swab samples. Track the overall progress of the project as well as learn your own migratory history. These personal results will be stored securely and anonymously to help ensure participant privacy. National Geographic and IBM will regularly update the public and the scientific community on project findings through the Web site.

Proceeds from kit sale will help support the Legacy Fund, making a difference to indigenous groups all over the planet. By contributing your sample to the larger database, you can help us understand our human origins.

Back to top

The Kit

The KitParticipation is simple, easy and painless. Simply swab the inside of your cheek. Replace the swab in its container, seal it and place in the self-addressed envelope that is included.

Samples are processed by Family Tree DNA, one of the world's leading genetic genealogy companies, in conjunction with the University of Arizona Research Laboratories.

Your sample will be analyzed for genetic markers found in mitochondrial DNA and or the Y chromosome, depending on your gender. We want to be very clear-the cheek swab test is not conventional genealogy. Your results will not write the names of forgotten ancestors on your personal family tree or tell you where your great-grandparents lived. But it will indicate the maternal and paternal genetic markers your ancestors bequeathed you thousands of years ago.

Each kit is assigned a unique Genographic Project ID number. This ID is the only means by which you may access your anonymous results. Please record this ID number and keep it in a secure location. You will need it to track your results.

After mailing your cheek swab and allowing several weeks for processing, you may access your results in complete anonymity by entering your Genographic Participant Identification Number onto a secure Web page. The genetic profile you receive is more than a static set of data. It is like an ongoing subscription to your genetic history. Your profile might become more detailed as the Genographic Project amasses more data from around the world.

Once you have viewed your results, you will be given the opportunity to contribute your own results to the project's global database. You'll be asked to answer a few short "phenotypic" questions that will help place your DNA in cultural context. This process is optional, but it's also important. Each of us has a part in the ancient story of humankind's genetic journey. Together we can tell the whole story before it becomes lost in time.

Back to top


Relatives Our connections to the past can be surprising and our stories can complement each other's beliefs. The examples presented here show how one's ancestors may have travelled long distances and taken surprising paths. These examples illustrate well the importance of the ongoing study of our past through the use of genetic markers to help us better understand who we are, and how the human race migrated over time.

Nick DonofrioNick Donofrio

Like many Americans, Nick Donofrio, Senior Vice President, Technology and Manufacturing, knew his ancestors came from somewhere else. In his case, his grandparents came from Southern Italy to New York City. What he didn't know was that their forebears had settled in remote mountains in the Middle East 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.

"I never would have imagined the results," Nick says. "They're really kind of amazing."

Analysis of Nick's DNA found he belonged in the Haplogroup J2. This group originated in an area to the west of the Zagros Mountains in Iran. The area we now refer to as Mesopotamia, and it was the first culture in that part of the world to domesticate plants. Plant domestication, in turn, led to agriculture. Mesopotamians went from a society of hunter-gathers to farmers. Then they went on the road.

But how Nick's ancestors found their way from Mesopotamia to Italy remains unclear. "That's why we need to collect hundreds of thousands of these samples," says Nick. More samples will help fill in the gap between the origins of modern humankind and the beginnings of recorded history.

Peter MousPeter Mous
Born in Belgium

Peter Mous' DNA identifies him as a member of Haplogroup R1B, the most common group in Europe. In some places, notably one area of Ireland, it accounts for 98 percent of the males.

And his family history mirrors the DNA findings. While he was born in Belgium, and raised there and in France, the U.S. and the Netherlands, Peter's father's family is Dutch and can trace its history back to at least the 18th century. Less is known about the history of his mother's family, although it is believed to have come from a German town called Querbach.

Ancestral members of Haplogroup R1B were responsible for the famous Paleolithic cave paintings in Cheveaux, France. Peter's forebears were probably the first homo sapiens in Europe, arriving to an area already inhabited by Neanderthals, whom they likely out-competed for resources. When the last ice age arrived, they were cut off from both northern and eastern Europe and retreated.

Irving Wladawsky-BergerIrving Wladawsky-Berger
Born in Cuba

Although he was born in Havana, Cuba, Irving Wladawsky-Berger is of Eastern European origin. That's not a surprise for him.

"Both my parents came from Eastern Europe to Cuba, my father in the 1920s, my mother in the 1930s," said Irving. "All the family that was left behind in Eastern Europe were killed during the Holocaust. I cannot trace my parents' family beyond their parents and brothers and sisters."

Irving belongs to Haplogroup J, a Semitic group that flowed out of the Middle East in two great migrations in the last 10,000 years. The first was the migration of farmers from the Fertile Crescent, in present-day Middle East , which brought agriculture to Europe. The second, which took place about 70 AD, came just after the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem. Irving's ancestors are believed to have been part of the second migration. About 50 percent of Eastern European Jews are members of Haplogroup J.

Although there were few surprises in the DNA results, they did have an effect on Irving. "The findings caused me to look into my heritage more, something I had not done in a long time," he said.

Back to top


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
Back to top
The Genographic Project
View Flash Presentation in pop-up

Discover humanity's great journey.

-> View Flash Presentation in pop-up (250KB)
Get Macromedia Flash™ Player
A research partnership of  National Geographic and IBM
    About IBM Privacy Contact