Media Releases

For all media enquiries, please contact

Out of Africa

Research by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) is helping understand our susceptibility to certain diseases and will aid in predicting at-risk groups in the community.

According to Dr Joseph Powell from QIMR’s Queensland Statistical Genetics Laboratory, “The movement of humans throughout the globe has played an important role in shaping the diversity of our genes. Our research has unravelled differences in genetic markers from people from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds.”

“Examining these genetic variations can help us understand how diseases occur in different populations which ultimately depend on the region from which they originated.”

By studying the DNA of people today, researchers have been able to unlock the movement of ancient man and map the migration patterns of humans thousands of years ago.

“By exploring how these markers have changed over time, we can support the work of archaeologists and anthropologists in understanding how ancient populations came together and moved apart over hundreds of thousands of years,” explains Dr Powell.

“Traditionally, it was thought that the movement out of Africa happened in a single wave, but our studies have shown that it likely to have happened in several waves.”

“Our results provide strong evidence that tens of thousands of years ago one group moved out of Africa, and settled down in an area away from other African groups. From this settlement, a group broke away and migrated towards Asia. Thousands of years later the original settlement was then joined by another wave of people from Africa, at which point, a second group broke off and moved towards Europe.”

The paper will be published in the Genome Research. The paper is available online: