Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny

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The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) at the University of California, San Diego. Formally established in 2008,[1][2][3] CARTA is a collaboration between faculty members of UCSD main campus, the UCSD School of Medicine, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and interested scientists at other institutions from around the world.

CARTA was formed in order to promote transdisciplinary research into anthropogeny[4] - the study of human origins - drawing on methods from a number of traditional disciplines spanning the humanities, social, biomedical, biological, computational & engineering and physical & chemical sciences.

History of CARTA[edit]

Before CARTA became an established and formal UCSD recognized Organized Research Unit, a multidisciplinary effort to study human origins had already been underway in the La Jolla area for over a decade, coordinated by the UCSD Project for Explaining the Origin of Humans (POH). The group involved local experts in San Diego as well as many others throughout the world. The primary activity of the group was to organize multi-disciplinary interactions amongst members (via meetings in La Jolla), and via secure internet-based mechanisms. These efforts have now been converted into a larger and more publicly active research program, which facilitate graduate and postgraduate education in relevant departments and programs.

Mission statement[edit]

"Use all rational and ethical approaches to seek all verifiable facts from all relevant disciplines to explore and explain the origins of the human phenomenon, while minimizing complex organizational structures and hierarchies, and avoiding unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy. In the process, raise awareness and understanding of the study of human origins within the academic community and the public at large."[5]

Organization and leadership[edit]

The co-directors of the Institute are Ajit Varki, Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, UCSD, Margaret Schoeninger,[6] Professor and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology, UCSD, and Fred Gage, Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Neurosciences, UCSD


The Center sponsors a symposium series on human origins[7] for both researchers and the public. It also partners with other San Diego institutions and organizations in sponsoring public lectures

It offers a graduate specialization available to students in participating PhD programs at UC San Diego.[8]

It sponsors the Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny (MOCA), formerly known as the "Museum of Comparative Anthropogeny", an online compilation of comparative information that highlights the differences between humans and the “great apes,” with an emphasis on uniquely human features.[9] It also compiles a chronological list of book titles relevant to exploring human origins and human evolution.[10]

It houses the Museum of Primatology,[11] a collection of chimpanzee and human skeletons, which are currently undergoing 3D digitization and IT integration.[12][13][14]

CARTA does not directly fund or organize research by its members, but provides a forum for researchers in varied fields to come together "to explore and explain the human phenomenon.”

Areas of interest[edit]


  1. ^ Scott LaFee (April 10, 2008). "Original kin". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  2. ^ Debra Kain (September 8, 2008). "New center for study of human origins opens". UC Newsroom. 
  3. ^ Staff (September 17, 2008). "Human origins focus of center". La Jolla Light. 
  4. ^ Bruce Lieberman (July 2, 2008). "Human evolution: Details of being human". Nature. 
  5. ^ CARTA website.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  7. ^
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  12. ^ Scott LaFee (July 13, 2009). "Skeleton keys". UT San Diego. 
  13. ^ Calit2 (June 16, 2009). "CARTA to digitize extensive skeleton collection this summer". California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. 
  14. ^ Jon Cohen (April 2, 2010). "Cutting to the bone of human origins". Science. 
  15. ^ Paul K. Mueller (April 10, 2008). "Final "Evolution Matters" Lecture Finds Clues to Human Disease in Genetics of Primates". UCSD Division of Biological Sciences. 

External links[edit]