Who Am I?

Leah had mentioned that we are participating in the National Geographic Genographic Project. The kits came in the post yesterday and it consists of a nice small cardboard box containing a nice glossy print booklet describing the project, a DVD, a very nice colour map about the migration of the human DNA, a few leaflets about National Geographic involvement and IBM involvement, a self-addressed padded envelope, an instruction card, and finally two cotton swabs and two small vials containing, what I presume, saline solution. (We haven’t watched the DVD yet but I presume that it will be some video about the project and etc., etc.)

The DNA test is completely anonymous. We do not supply the project with any person information. The only thing we have to supply on the consent form is our genders. Nor will the testing able to tell whether we have a genetic diseases or who our parents/grandparents/etc. are. The only links we have to the project from this point onward are our Genographic Participant ID (GPID), which we use to check the status of our result on the web site.

The DNA collection process was very simple. Basically swabs the inner cheek for about a minute, put the swab end into the vial and seal it. Repeat the process with the second swab after a minimum of 8 hours and mail both samples back. That is it! The only tricky part that I wasn’t sure about when I read the instruction was to separate the cotton swab end from the swab stick into the vial. The instruction says that I have to push from the top of the stick to “eject” the cotton end into the vial. Eject? That can’t be good. You don’t use that word unless you want me to imagine pilot seat blasting out of the fighter plane at 100+mph in under a second! Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me 🙂 But when I got to that step in the process, indeed I needed to apply moderate push to eject the cotton swab but it was very controlled ejection with no splash of the solution from the vial.

To make it more fun, we originally were planning to swab each other. But then I guessed old habit dies hard and our science background kicked in (Leah and I are geology and physics graduates, respectively). Although the probability of cross-contimination is extremely small, we were not going to take the chance so we ended up swabbing ourselves.

Leah and I performed the first swab last night before we went to sleep and completed the process with the second swab this morning. So now all we need to do is to mail our DNA samples back to the lab. So despite the non-trivia cost of the project ($99.95 + shipping), I am very impressed by the whole experience thus far. Very well organised, very well packaged, and make us feel very much involved. And to actually participate in a science experiment of value and this scale is just amazing.

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