Lucie McNeil (202) 857-5841 email@example.com
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National Geographic/Genographic Project IBM/Genographic Project
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AND IBM LAUNCH LANDMARK PROJECT
TO MAP HOW HUMANKIND POPULATED PLANET
Five-Year Genographic Project Allows Individuals to Trace Own
EMBARGOED: For release 12:01 a.m. (ET, U.S.) Wednesday, April
WASHINGTON—The National Geographic Society and IBM today
launched a groundbreaking research initiative that will trace
the migratory history of the human species.
The Genographic Project, a five-year research partnership, will
use sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed
by hundreds of thousands of people, including indigenous peoples
and members of the general public, to map how the Earth was populated.
Led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells,
Ph.D., a team of international scientists and IBM researchers
will collect genetic samples, analyze results and report on the
genetic roots of modern humans.
With funding from the Waitt Family Foundation, the scientists
will establish 10 centers around the world and will study more
than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. The project
is expected to reveal rich details about global human migratory
history and to drive new understanding about the connections and
differences that make up the human species.
“We see this as the 'moon shot’ of anthropology, using
genetics to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of human history,"
said project leader Spencer Wells. "Our DNA carries a story
that is shared by everyone. Over the next five years we'll be
deciphering that story, which is now in danger of being lost as
people migrate and mix to a much greater extent than they have
in the past.”
The resulting public database will house one of the largest collections
of human population genetic information ever assembled and will
serve as an unprecedented resource for geneticists, historians
Members of the general public are able to participate in the Genographic
Project by purchasing a kit and allowing their own results to
be included in the database. Individuals will be able to follow
the progress of their own migratory history as well as the global
research by logging on to nationalgeographic.com.
"National Geographic has been exploring and mapping the world
for 117 years," said John Fahey, President and CEO of the
National Geographic Society. "Now, as a result of our remarkable
partnership with IBM and Spencer Wells, we are deploying state-of-the-art
science and technology to map our journey across the planet. We
hope this ambitious and important project will increase our understanding
and appreciation of our shared history. The field science work,
so generously supported by the Waitt Family Foundation, will go
into a virtual museum of human history.”
“IBM and National Geographic are embarking on a historic
expedition into our collective past,” said Samuel J. Palmisano,
chairman and CEO of IBM. “Our two organizations have long
contributed to scientific exploration and achievement, extending
in different ways the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding.
We continue this tradition of innovation that matters for the
world and welcome the participation of the hundreds of thousands
of people who will join in this amazing journey.”
Scientists from IBM’s Computational Biology Center, one
of the world’s foremost life sciences research facilities,
will use advanced analytical technologies and data sorting techniques
to interpret the samples and to discover new patterns and connections
within the data they contain. IBM is also providing the core computational
knowledge and infrastructure that will manage the hundreds of
thousands of genotype codes being analyzed by the Genographic
“The more we can improve our understanding of the common
origin and journey of humankind, the greater the possibility for
all of us to see each other as members of the same family,”
said Ted Waitt, founder of the Waitt Family Foundation. “And
with that awareness, we can find ways to live and work together
on a global basis.”
The Genographic Project has three core components:
• Field Research – Collecting DNA samples and field
research with indigenous populations are central to the project.
Blood samples from indigenous populations, whose DNA contains
key genetic markers that have remained relatively unaltered over
hundreds of generations, are reliable indicators of ancient migratory
patterns. Wells and a consortium of scientists from prominent
international institutions will conduct the field and laboratory
research. An international advisory board will oversee the selection
of indigenous populations for testing as well as adhering to strict
sampling and research protocols.
• Public Participation and Awareness Campaign – The
public can take part by purchasing a Participation Kit, (U.S.
$99.95 plus shipping and handling), 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 (www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic)
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. Public
participation may be restricted in some countries, such as China
and India, where the export of genetic materials requires government
approval. The Genographic Project will work with relevant authorities
to achieve the broadest level of public participation possible.
• Genographic Legacy Project – Proceeds from the sale
of the Genographic Participation Kits will help fund future field
research and a legacy project, which will build on National Geographic’s
focus on world cultures. The legacy project will support education
and cultural preservation projects among participating indigenous
About National Geographic
Founded in 1888, National Geographic is one of the world’s
largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Its
mission is to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while
promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical
and natural resources. National Geographic reflects the world
through its five magazines, cable television channels and programs,
films, radio, books, videos, maps, interactive media and merchandise,
reaching as many as 300 million people each month.
IBM is the world’s largest information technology company,
with more than 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate.
It has a long history of innovating on behalf of society, and
in recent years has launched a series of major research initiatives
designed to overcome many of the remaining “grand challenges”
of science, including the Deep Blue chess–playing computer
and unraveling the mysteries of protein folding with BlueGene,
the world’s fastest supercomputer. IBM Research is the world’s
largest information technology research organization, with more
than 3,000 scientists and engineers at eight labs in six countries.
For more information about IBM, visit www.ibm.com.
About the Waitt Family Foundation
Established in 1993 by Gateway Computer founder and now Chairman
Ted Waitt and his wife, Joan, the Waitt Family Foundation focuses
on humankind’s past, present and future. Specifically, the
foundation funds projects aimed at making discoveries about our
past that will help inform the way we are today and reveal untapped
possibilities for the future. For more information about the Waitt
Family Foundation, visit www.waittfoundation.org.
For more information about the Genographic Project, go to nationalgeographic.com/pressroom.