Stored in the human genome, perhaps, is the record of human evolution and existence on this planet. Many say, however, that this history and the benefits it may unfold for human health cannot be found in the single, essentially complete human sequence--99.9% similar to any other human sequence. It's the 0.1% difference that should tell the tale--not only of migration, war, technological achievement, and conquest--but also of the differences that confer susceptibility to complex, multigenic diseases.

In piecing together the travails of diverse human populations, geneticists use a growing number of tools and technologies. But, what would arguably be the most valuable resource to population geneticists still does not exist. First envisioned a decade ago, a project to sample diverse populations on a global scale faltered in its planning stages amid controversy and criticism that its proponents were not sensitive to the concerns of groups it proposed to study. Its...

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