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The Genographic Project: Mapping the Human Story
EMBARGOED: For release 12:01 a.m. (ET, U.S.) Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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.

Project Partners:

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.

Key Funder:
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 indigenous groups.

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 Genetics
School of Life Sciences Research Centre for Medical Genetics
Fudan University Moscow (Russia)

Shanghai (China)
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 Institute
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
Institut Pasteur
Paris (France)

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
Legacy Project.

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
Cambridge, UK

Linguist: Merritt Ruhlen, Ph.D.
Stanford University
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
Harvard University
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
IBM Corporation
Armonk, New York, USA

Waitt Family Foundation: John Heubusch, President
Waitt Family Foundation
La Jolla, California, USA

National Geographic: Terry Garcia
Executive Vice President
Mission Programs

National Geographic Society
Washington, D.C., USAFor photographs:
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