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Testing Blood to Track History
we should def do this! (before its too late) but annonymously...commercialization,etc.
By Stephen Leahy
Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,67250,00.html
02:00 AM Apr. 19, 2005 PT
An ambitious and controversial genetics project that uses blood to trace the migration patterns of ancient humans faces a possible boycott as it launches this week.
The Genographic Project will collect 100,000 blood samples from indigenous populations and analyze their DNA. Through this project, researchers hope to answer questions about where the aborigines of Australia came from, or whether it's true that Alexander the Great fathered the blue-eyed blonds who have been in Afghanistan for more than 2,000 years.
The Genographic Project is the brainchild of the National Geographic Society and features IBM as its key partner in building the world's largest and most sophisticated human DNA database. The program will cost at least $40 million over five years and includes support from the Waitt Family Foundation of San Diego (which was founded by Gateway founder and chairman Ted Waitt).
The first humans are believed to have left their birthplace in northeastern Africa and spread across the globe between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. Using DNA samples from indigenous peoples, researchers believe they can trace the various routes these early people traveled to reach the four corners of the Earth.
The key to this genetic archeology is that some components of our DNA change very little from generation to generation. Each parent contributes half of a child's DNA, which combines with the other parent's DNA to form a new genetic combination. This gives each of us a unique set of attributes: hair, eye and skin color; our athleticism or lack of it; and so on.
Time is running out, however, because more and more indigenous people are leaving their ancestral villages and heading into the great genetic mixers called cities.
The results and data will be made public through the National Geographic and Genographic websites so that both indigenous people and the general public can follow and participate in the project, Rosset said. "While the data will be public, privacy will be ensured."
This a historical and geographic project, Rosset said. "We're not looking for genetic markers of medical interest. There is no medical research going on here.
"I think many people around the world are very curious about their story, their people's story and our story as a human family," he said.