deCode Genetics Inc. is based on the premise that the scarce resource in genomics is population, and that the only way to discover the genetic basis of complex diseases is by using a homogeneous population that eliminates the genetic variability among different racial and ethnic groups.

And while there are numerous pockets of inbred populations throughout the world that are useful for such research, only one country, Iceland, has an entire population of homogeneous families. Founded by a small group of individuals in the year 874, the population has remained isolated until recently.