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Scientists from 11 Asian countries have agreed to work together on a major study of human genetic diversity in the region. The initiative, announced on 18 November, is intended not only to shed light on historical patterns of migration but also to seek associations between genetics and certain diseases.

The researchers aim to collect 2,600 blood samples — between 20 and 100 from each ethnic group in the region. The two-year project will cost up to US$3 million and take two years to complete.

If funding is secured, institutions in China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea are likely to provide training and technical assistance to scientists from other Asian nations. According to the executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore, one of the organisers of the project, partners from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Mongolia are being sought.

Link to full news story in Science

Reference: Science 306, 1667 (2004)