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get your dna studied for $100?

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  • Greg Cannon
    if anyone s interested in doing this, go to http://www5.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/participate.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2005
      if anyone's interested in doing this, go to


      From the Chicago Tribune

      Your ancestry might surprise you

      Global DNA study aims to trace links of distant
      people, unravel migration

      By Michael Kilian and Jeremy Manier, Tribune staff
      reporters. Tribune national correspondent Michael
      Kilian reported from Washington, with staff reporter
      Jeremy Manier in Chicago

      April 14, 2005

      WASHINGTON -- Your family tree may look quite a bit
      different from you thought it did. Which is to say,
      you might well be related to the queen of England--but
      through a common ancestor who lived in Africa tens of
      millennia ago.

      In pursuit of such knowledge, the National Geographic
      on Wednesday announced a five-year, $40 million
      project to trace the evolution and migration of human
      beings and their cultures over the thousands of years
      of human existence.

      Organized in cooperation with IBM Corp. and the Waitt
      Family Foundation, the undertaking, which will be
      launched in May, will involve the scientific
      identification and computer analysis of about 100,000
      DNA samples--prehistoric, historic and contemporary.

      Indigenous people in remote locations will be asked
      for DNA samples, and contributions also will be
      accepted from volunteers around the globe. This will
      help determine where groups of people came from, what
      impelled them to migrate, where they ended up and what
      happened to them genetically and culturally along the

      "We want to learn the why of history," said population
      geneticist Spencer Wells, National Geographic
      explorer-in-residence and director of the Genographic
      Project. "Why did people move? Why did these people
      look a little bit like those people? Why did they
      speak the same language or a different language? We
      want to place the genetic information in the context
      of history and anthropology."

      Origins in Africa

      The new data and analysis will be combined or at least
      compared with existing knowledge and theory, such as
      the fact that, whether we live in Lake Forest, Ill.;
      Washington, D.C.; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, or the South
      Seas, we all have a common ancestry dating back to
      Africa, where the earliest known remains of humans
      were found.

      "That is very clear," Wells said. "That comes out of
      every genetic analysis that is done. We can trace
      ourselves back to Africa 60,000 years ago. So, 60,000
      years ago, everybody alive is living in Africa."

      But the second earliest example of human beings was
      found in Australia, from as far back as 55,000 B.C.,
      when a lingering ice age connected Australia and New
      Guinea. So much sea water was drawn up into ice that
      humans could walk across land from Australia to New
      Guinea. At the same time, the nearby islands of what
      is now Indonesia were for the most part connected in a
      single land mass that joined the Asian mainland, again
      because of the low sea level.

      "We need more data to really nail down the details of
      how they made this journey," Wells said.

      The project, however, raises concerns among some
      experts who say the organizers may run into trouble
      obtaining cooperation from native people around the

      In the late 1990s, opposition from indigenous groups
      who feared their genes would be exploited for profit
      helped doom a similar effort, called the Human Genome
      Diversity Project (HGDP). The leader of that project,
      Stanford University geneticist Luigi Luca
      Cavalli-Sforza, is chairman of an advisory board for
      the new effort and has been a mentor of Wells.

      `A checkered history'

      "This whole idea has a checkered history," said Lynn
      Jorde, a professor of human genetics at the University
      of Utah School of Medicine. "These kinds of studies
      are not as easy as just going out, saying `hello' to
      the natives and taking their DNA."

      Many of the project's goals are worthwhile, Jorde
      said. Studies of genetic markers have contributed to
      knowledge of how people moved around the globe. For
      example, genetic studies support the idea that the
      Roma, also called Gypsies, originated around northern

      "If it is done properly and with appropriate
      safeguards, this would be a wonderful addition to our
      library of human genetic variation," Jorde said.

      Organizers of the new project say they have eliminated
      many of the problems that led to the downfall of the
      earlier one. The new study will not attempt to produce
      medical applications from rare genes--a potentially
      key point for ethnic groups that want to control any
      commercial use of their genes.

      The new project's Web site
      (www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic) specifically
      addresses the failure of the earlier diversity

      "Fourteen years ago when the HGDP was first discussed,
      the language of DNA and genetic anthropology was
      foreign to all but a few scientists," the site says.
      "Today that language is more familiar to many of us,
      and many of the ethical and privacy issues are more
      clearly understood by the global community."

      Yet other old concerns have not gone away, experts
      said. Some native groups fear that new findings about
      migration patterns and ancestry could spur legal
      challenges to their historical claims to their lands,
      said Morris Foster, a medical anthropologist at the
      University of Oklahoma. He said it's unclear whether
      the privately run effort would offer the same ethical
      protections that academic research would, such as an
      independent institutional review board.

      "I don't anticipate that many native people will
      contribute to this project," Foster said.

      In Spencer Wells the project found a leader whose
      talent for self-promotion has left some geneticists
      and anthropologists unimpressed. Wells, 34, is perhaps
      best known for hosting a public television
      mini-series, "The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey."

      "He's quite a showman," Jorde said.

      To gather research data, the project is establishing
      field centers in the U.S., Britain, South Africa,
      India, Australia, France, Lebanon and Brazil.

      Field work is `core'

      Wells said, "The core will be the field work they'll
      be doing with indigenous populations, that is,
      populations that have lived in place for a long period
      of time, for generations, or perhaps dozens or
      hundreds of generations, that are in some way unique
      and contain the context in which genetic diversity
      arose. They give us a first glimpse of the migratory
      paths of our ancestors."

      Volunteers from all parts of the world also are being
      sought because their stories and DNA samples are
      needed for comparison with the historic ones to
      complete the picture.

      Though the project will bear the cost of the research
      into indigenous peoples, other participants will have
      to reach into their own pockets. For $99.95, the
      project will provide those interested with a
      Genographic Public Participation Kit, which includes
      instructions on how to obtain a good DNA sample with
      the kit's cheek scraper and information on what
      happens afterward.

      Scientists are able to track back through populations
      genetically because every so often over generations
      small changes or mutations occur in the DNA that mark
      those who came before and those who came after.

      "When they're passed down through generations, they
      mark a line of descent because they occur so rarely,"
      Wells said. "If you share a marker with someone, you
      share an ancestor in the past. It's by looking at the
      pattern of these variances . . . that we can trace
      people around the world."
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