Monday, December 7, 2009

Human Genographic Project

My DNA has been isolated. In a few weeks I will know the route my ancestors took in their migration out of Africa. I signed up for the Genographic Project. It's a great project run by National Geographic that is mapping the migration history of the human species by using the DNA of hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

A couple of weeks ago I swabbed the inside of my cheeks then put the swab in a solution and shipped it to NatGeo.
They received it and started running their lab work. In their words:

The cells are broken open by incubation with a protein-cutting enzyme overnight. Chemicals and the samples are transferred into deep well blocks for robotic DNA isolation. The blocks of chemicals and samples are placed on the extraction robot. The robotic DNA isolation uses silica-coated iron beads. In the presence of the appropriate chemicals DNA will bind to silica. The robot then uses magnetic probes to collect the beads (and DNA) and transfer them through several chemical washes and finally into a storage buffer, which allows the beads to release the DNA. At this point the beads are collected and discarded


So soon I should have a complete map of where my ancestors came from (on my Dad's side) going all the way back to Africa. Did they come out of Africa, turn right to Australia? Were they part of the group that split off and headed to Asia and across the Bering Straight? Maybe they were the European contingent (likely).

Thanks to Steve Jurvetson for introducing me to this.
Here's his map. As you can see his ancestors ended up in Scandinavia.



Here's more info on the Genographic Project if you're interested.

A Landmark Study of the Human Journey

Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.

The Genographic Project is seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project is closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories.

The Genographic Project is a five-year research partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells. Dr. Wells and a team of renowned international scientists and IBM researchers, are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots. The three components of the project are: to gather field research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world; to invite the general public to join the project by purchasing a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit; and to use proceeds from Genographic Public Participation Kit sales to further field research and the Genographic Legacy Fund which in turn supports indigenous conservation and revitalization projects. The Project is anonymous, non-medical, non-profit and all results will be placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.

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