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Genographic Project

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LAST UPDATED: February 12th, 2020

The Genographic Project Began in 2005, led by a geneticist, Dr. Spencer Wells. The project is currently led by an anthropologist, Dr. Miguel Villar.

This anonymous, non-medical, nonprofit research project works with universities and scientists around the world. Its goal is to reveal patterns of human migration with three aims:

  • Collaborating with indigenous and traditional peoples to gather and analyze research data
  • Inviting, encouraging, and educating the public who participate, while helping them to learn about their deep ancestry
  • Investing a portion of the proceeds from DNA kit sales into National Geographic Society grants to support scientific research and conservation

Since 2016, the genographic project has partnered with Helix and uses a saliva sample.

The most recent version of the test is called Geno 2.0. It looks for almost 300,000 DNA markers that provide ancestry-relevant information in your mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA (males only). Direct paternal or maternal ancestry, depending on your haplogroup, can be as recent as a thousand years ago, but also autosomal information will show you percentages of your genetic mixture going back about six generations. Depending on how many generations that was in your family, this is 200 to 500 years ago.

The test also reviews other markers across your genome, not just the y-dna and mtdna to show insights into your ancestors that are not on your direct maternal or paternal lines. Mitochondrial DNA only shows a direct maternal line and Y chromosome DNA only shows the direct paternal line. This part of the test spreads out more data to help you learn about your ancestors who are beyond just that direct line. Test results will show migration paths of ancestors hundreds to thousands of years ago, your DNA ethnicity mixture, and whether you have any Neanderthal DNA.

Since its inception, the Genographic Project has had more than 1 million participants in more than 140 countries across the globe.

Test processing takes about 8 weeks; however, about 10 days after your samples are received, you can track their progress through the testing process.

This test has been discontinued and is no longer available for purchase. 

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The Good

  • The Genographic Project
  • Neanderthal DNA
  • Download Raw Data

The Genographic Project

National Geographic has worked on how to build the genographic project for years. This is more than just a DNA kit that people can buy. In 2005, the project began by collecting samples donated by 10,000 indigenous peoples to help map migratory patterns going back 150,000 years.

The project's first phase included DNA sample collection and analysis with samples from more than 470,000 people.

Neanderthal DNA

Consumers can learn whether they have Neanderthal DNA in their genetic makeup with this test.

Download Raw Data

Consumers have access to their raw DNA data. It can be downloaded for upload to other software programs. However, if you have the later Helix co-branded DNA results, it may not work with every company's upload algorithm due to increased complexity.


The Bad

  • Discontinued
  • Outside Labs
  • Replacement Kit Cost
  • Online-Only Results


As of May 2019, Geno 2.0 DNA ancestry kits are no longer available for purchase. If you've already purchased a kit, you can still send it in for processing until December 31st of 2019. After the 31st, National Geographic and its processing partners at Helix and FTDNA won't accept Geno kits for processing.

If you have a Helix Geno 2.0 kit that has already expired, you can get a new kit for $25 plus shipping. But replacement kits still have to be sent in prior to the 31st.

As for the Geno 2.0 website, National Geographic plans to maintain the site and customers can access their results until June 30th, 2020. Consumers are urged to download their printable results and save them.

Outside Labs

Depending on which version of the test you got, it's not actually processed by National Geographic. However, it will be processed by well-known and accredited labs at FamilyTree DNA or Helix DNA labs.

Replacement Kit Cost

DNA kits have a shelf life. If yours is expired, you can get a new one, but it costs about $25 plus shipping and handling. Other DNA companies will offer replacement kits for free.

Online-Only Results

Like most ancestral tests, results are available online only. You have to register your kit and remember your login details to access.


The Bottom Line

National Geographic has helped to further so much of the research that has informed and influenced the boom in today's ancestry DNA testing products. The Genographic Project has helped to form today's DNA testing market and helped more than a million people learn about their own genetic ancestry.

Unfortunately, testing kits are no longer available to consumers, other than third-party sellers or re-sellers. Additionally, all kits need to be received at the lab at the end of 2019, if they are going to be processed.

Consumers are urged to download and save their results, as the National Geographic website may no longer be hosting their data after June 2020.

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