Genetic studies suggest that humans originated from a common ancestor in Africa 60,000 years ago and then migrated along various routes to create the diverse global population that exists today. Tracing our roots and migratory paths back to their origins, however, is not a simple task. National Geographic has teamed with IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation to create the Genographic Project, a five-year research project that will map human migration over tens of thousands of years. Researchers will track specific "markers of descent" carried in DNA and use it to probe questions about deep human ancestry and historical human migration paths. The public is being invited to participate in this worldwide research program by purchasing Genographic Project participation kits with which to collect a DNA sample using a cheek swab that is then mailed to the project center, which will perform DNA analysis and make the results available to each participant through the project website. The results are kept private and anonymous by tracking the kit number, not individual names or other identifying information. Funds from sales of the participation kits will support the costs of testing and analysis as well as further research. Major technological support for the Genographic Project is being provided by IBM and IBM's Computational Biology Center.
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