Find out the ‘Journey of Your Genes’

Evolution Festival, Media releases

The Genographic Project

MELBOURNE RESIDENTS CELEBRATE THEIR DIVERSITY BY PARTICIPATING IN THE GENOGRAPHIC PROJECT

Your deep ancestry dating back 60,000 years revealed

Have you ever wanted to know where your ancient ancestors came from – dating back 60,000 years? Now Melbourne residents, who collectively make up one of the most diverse populations in the world, have the opportunity to find out their deep migratory history when Melbourne University hosts ‘The Journey of Your Genes…The Genographic Project Traces Your Family Roots,’ a special free public event.

On Sunday 4 October from 10am – 2pm, as part of Evolution the Festival, the public will be invited to come to Melbourne University’s Bio 21 Institute, 30 Flemington Road, Parkville and be guided through a free cheek swab worth over $100 from The Genographic Project – a partnership of National Geographic and IBM with field support by the Waitt Family Foundation.

The first 100 people will hear about the Project and decide if they want to participate using the free cheek swab which tests 12 ‘markers’ to determine their deep ancestry – paternal or maternal lineage dating back over as many as 2,000 generations.

Volunteers from IBM and Melbourne University will ‘swab’ participants with the results combined to provide not only an insight into each individual’s deep ancestry but also an overview of Melbourne’s migratory history.

The Genographic Project is a landmark global research initiative, which is studying the history of humankind’s collective ancient migratory journey out of Africa 60,000 years ago, using DNA as a study tool. Initial research commenced in 2005.

“This is a unique opportunity to highlight the incredible diversity of Melbourne’s population and to celebrate that diversity. Our family history is written in our genes and Melbourne’s migratory history started well over 60,000 years ago,” Professor Philip Batterham, chairman of Evolution the Festival and a DNA expert from Melbourne University said.

As part of its public participation and education outreach, the project will offer Melbourne residents an opportunity similar to the one offered to the residents of Queens, New York, whose journeys were featured in the National Geographic Channel television documentary, The Human Family Tree premiering in Australia on Sunday 11 October at 8:30pm AEDT on National Geographic Channel. The documentary retraces the deepest branches of the human species to reveal interconnected stories hidden in our genes – using diverse neighbours from a single street who represent a microcosm of the world.

Testing will be on a first-come, first-served basis and tests limited to one male or one female member from each family. For those who miss out, Genographic testing kits will be on sale and purchasers can choose to have their cheek swab taken on the spot for direct dispatch to the testing laboratory. Others may also become involved in this real time research initiative by purchasing a kit online from www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic.

Net proceeds from the sale of the Genographic Project Public Participation Kit are returned to the research and support a legacy fund that provides grants to indigenous and traditional peoples around the world. To formulate the genetic markers that expand the basis for the migratory analysis, a team of Genographic scientists from eleven global research centers are collaborating with indigenous and traditional groups to analyse DNA samples.

The Genographic Project’s field research teams in Australia hail from Melbourne’s La Trobe University, where the study is overseen by Assoc Prof. John Mitchell as well as from the Ancient DNA Centre at Adelaide University led by Professor Alan Cooper.

Other activities on Sunday 4 October include interactive displays about The Genographic Project and DNA, video screenings, the opportunity to speak to scientists about your ancestral roots, a book fair focused on DNA along with family entertainment.

To date more than 350,000 people around the world have taken part in the Genographic Project to create a vast database of our human history. Participants will be able to access their results online and will also be invited back to further explore their results at a special public lecture at Melbourne University on Sunday 29 November.

ENDS##

For further information contact: Kim McKay or Minta Burn – Momentum2 02 9331 3577 or 0418 440 626 (Kim) kmckay@momentum2.com.au; mburn@momentum2.com.au

or

Prof. Phil Batterham, Evolution, The Festival, Melbourne University 03 8344 2363 0418 598 562 p.batterham@unimelb.edu.au

More about the Melbourne events at humanjourneys.com.au

And about the global program at www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic

ABOUT THE GENOGRAPHIC PROJECT

The Genographic Project seeks to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species and answer age-old questions surrounding the genetic diversity of humanity. The project is a not-for-profit, five-year, global research partnership of National Geographic and IBM, launched in 2005, using genetics as a tool to address anthropological questions on a global scale. At the core of the project is a consortium of 11 global regional scientific teams who, following an ethical and scientific framework, are responsible for sample collection and DNA analysis in their respective regions. The project is open to members of the public to participate through purchasing a public participation kit from the Genographic website, where they can also choose to donate their genetic results to the expanding database. Proceeds from kit sales support the field research and a Legacy Fund for indigenous and traditional community-led language revitalization and cultural projects — nationalgeographic.com/genographic.

ABOUT THE HUMAN FAMILY TREE DOCUMENTARY: PREMIERES ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL AT 8:30PM AEDT ON SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER, 2009.

On a single day on a single street, with the DNA of just a couple of hundred random people, National Geographic Channel sets out to trace the ancestral footsteps of all humanity. Narrated by Kevin Bacon, The Human Family Tree travels to one of the most diverse corners of the world – Queens, N.Y. – to demonstrate how we all share common ancestors who embarked on very different journeys. Regardless of race, nationality or religion, all of us can trace our ancient origin back to the cradle of humanity, East Africa. What did our collective journey look like, and where did it take your specific ancestors? At what point in our past did we first cross paths with the supposed strangers living in our neighbourhood? Now, in The Human Family Tree, the -2- (more) people of this quintessential melting pot find out that their connections go much deeper than a common address. http://natgeotv.com.au

Contact: Marcus Cammack, National Geographic Channel 02 9813 6875 marcus.cammack@natgeotv.com.au

ABOUT EVOLUTION, THE FESTIVAL

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, which sparked a scientific, artistic, social and spiritual revolution. Australia will celebrate and reflect on Darwin’s ongoing impact with a rich tapestry of public events including exhibitions, film, forums, tours, dinners, lectures, debates and church services. http://evolutionaustralia.org.au

Contact: Niall Byrne 03 9398 1416 niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

More about the Melbourne events at humanjourneys.com.au

And about the global program at www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic