The Genographic Project: Mapping the Human Story
EMBARGOED: For release 12:01 a.m. (ET, U.S.) Wednesday, April
At A Glance:
The Genographic Project seeks to chart new knowledge about the
migratory history of the human species and answer age-old questions
surrounding the genetic diversity of humanity. The project is
a nonprofit, five-year, global research partnership of National
Geographic and IBM, led by population geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells.
With support for field research from the Waitt Family Foundation,
Wells and a group of the world’s leading scientists will
attempt to collect and analyze more than 100,000 DNA samples from
people all over the world.
Core components of the project are:
• Field Research
• Public Participation and Awareness Campaign
• Legacy Project
The goal of the Genographic Project is to help people better understand
their own history, learn about ancient migratory paths our ancestors
took to populate the planet, and discover how, in spite of our
diverse appearances, we all are part of the same family tree and
share common origins.
National Geographic Society – National Geographic, which
developed the concept of the Genographic Project with Wells, is
providing overall coordination for the project, including management
of field operations, sale and distribution of the Participation
Kits, the project Web site and other related activities.
IBM Corporation – A team of IBM researchers, scientists
and technicians, led by IBM’s Ajay Royyuru, is designing
the technical infrastructure for the project, providing computational
biology and research expertise, and driving exploratory research
programs related to data compilation and analysis.
Waitt Family Foundation – The Foundation has provided critical
funding to underwrite Genographic’s field research, which
is at the core of the project and will form the basis of its findings.
Primary Project Science and Research Leaders:
Spencer Wells, Ph.D. – Director of the Genographic Project
and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. A population
geneticist who has conducted pioneering research using DNA to
trace humankind’s migratory history, Wells will coordinate
and oversee the teams of scientists who will collect, examine
and decode the DNA obtained from indigenous populations and the
public, with the goal of furthering understanding of the migratory
history of humankind.
Ajay Royyuru, Ph.D. – Royyuru is the lead scientist for
IBM on the Genographic Project. He heads the Computational Biology
Center at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where
he leads 35 researchers in a wide range of projects, including
bioinformatics, structural biology, protein science and applications
on BlueGene, functional genomics and systems biology.
Core Project Components:
Field Research – A consortium of 10 distinguished researchers
from prestigious scientific institutions around the world will
conduct DNA sampling of hundreds of indigenous populations. An
additional researcher will focus on ancient DNA. This field research
will be underwritten by the Waitt Family Foundation.
Public Participation and Awareness Campaign – The public
can take part in the project by purchasing a Participation Kit
and submitting their own cheek swab samples, allowing them to
track the overall progress of the project as well as learn their
own migratory history. These personal results will be stored securely
and anonymously to ensure the privacy of participants. National
Geographic and IBM will regularly update the public and the scientific
community on project findings, by such means as the Web site and
National Geographic’s many other media platforms worldwide.
A television program, “The Search for Adam,” will
air in the U.S. on the National Geographic Channel Explorer series
and around the world on the National Geographic Channel.
Legacy Project – Proceeds from the sale of Genographic
Participation Kits will help fund future field research and a
legacy project, which will build on National Geographic’s
century-long focus on world cultures. The legacy project will
support educational and cultural preservation projects among participating
Principal Research Centers/Investigators:
Internationally recognized experts in human population genetics
and related disciplines, located at 10 research laboratories and
universities, will lead regional efforts to obtain and analyze
DNA samples from indigenous populations. One additional scientist
will focus on DNA collected from ancient samples.
East/Southeast Asia North Eurasia
Li Jin, Ph.D. Elena Balanovska , Ph.D.
Center for Anthropological Studies Laboratory of Human Population
School of Life Sciences Research Centre for Medical Genetics
Fudan University Moscow (Russia)
India Middle East/North Africa
Ramasamy Pitchappan, Ph.D. Pierre Zalloua, Ph.D.
Centre for Excellence in Genomic Sciences Department of Internal
Medicine & Ob/Gyn
Madurai Kamaraj University American University of Beirut
Tamil Nadu (India) Beirut (Lebanon)
North America South America
Theodore Schurr, Ph.D. Fabricio Santos, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology Institute of Biological Sciences
University of Pennsylvania Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Philadelphia (USA) Minas Gerais (Brazil)
Sub-Sahara Africa Western/Central Europe: Y Chromosome
Himla Soodyall, Ph.D. Chris Tyler-Smith, Ph.D.
Human Genomic Diversity/Disease Research The Wellcome Trust Sanger
National Health Laboratory Service Cambridge (UK)
University of Witwatersrand
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Western/Central Europe: Mitochondrial DNA
Lluis Quintana-Murci, Ph.D.
Unit of Molecular Prevention/Therapy of Human Diseases
Australia/Pacific Ancient DNA
Robert John Mitchell, Ph.D. Alan Cooper, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics Division of Earth & Environmental Sciences
LaTrobe University University of Adelaide
Melbourne (Australia) Adelaide (Australia)
International Advisory Board
An international advisory board, composed of leading global authorities
in a number of related disciplines along with representatives
of indigenous communities, will oversee the selection of populations
for testing as well as the adherence to strict sampling and research
protocols. The board will also help determine initiatives to be
carried out under the
Advisory Board Members:
Population Geneticist: Professor Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Ph.D.,
Advisory Board Chairman
Department of Genetics
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California, USA
Archaeologist: Professor Lord Colin Renfrew, Ph.D.
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge
Linguist: Merritt Ruhlen, Ph.D.
Stanford, California, USA
Paleontologist: Adjunct Professor Meave Leakey, Ph.D.
Department of Anatomy, Dept. of Antrhopology
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York, USA
Anthropologist/Ethnobotanist: Wade Davis, Ph.D.
National Geographic Society
Washington, D.C., USA
Evolutionary Geneticist: Professor Scott Edwards, Ph.D.
Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
(National Geographic Committee for Research & Exploration)
Indigenous Advocate: Tammy Williams
Director of Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships
Cape York, Queensland, Australia
IBM: Nick Donofrio
Senior Vice President, Technology & Manufacturing
Armonk, New York, USA
Waitt Family Foundation: John Heubusch, President
Waitt Family Foundation
La Jolla, California, USA
National Geographic: Terry Garcia
Executive Vice President
National Geographic Society
Washington, D.C., USAFor photographs: http://ftp2.nationalgeographic.com/pressroom
For more press information: nationalgeographic.com/pressroom