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GenePOPS -- Sequencing Human History: The Genetics and Commerce of Personal Ancestry

(WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2007) As citizens of a vibrant melting pot, Americans increasingly turn to genetic testing companies to discover their roots. Some merely confirm what they already suspect; others receive surprising information about their ancestral origins.

Our DNA contains molecular footprints that provide clues about the migratory paths our ancestors traveled over thousands of generations. Scientists study this DNA to uncover the geographical origins of our species and trace human migrations around the globe.

How is the study of genetic variation used in biomedical and anthropological research? Why do some companies offer these tests directly to consumers? What are the benefits and consequences of knowing one's ancestral origins? How is genetic ancestry used to decide claims about ethnic, political, and religious identity? What privacy risks are involved in submitting a sample for DNA testing?

Reporters are invited to cover the next Genetics and Public Policy Center's Genetics Perspectives on Policy Seminar (GenePOPS), "Sequencing Human History: The Genetics and Commerce of Personal Ancestry."

Aravinda Chakravarti, director of Johns Hopkins' Institute of Genetic Medicine, will describe the relationship between genetics and geographic origins, and how understanding human genetic variation is accelerating biomedical research. Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project at National Geographic, will explain how his team is mapping ancient human migrations based on the DNA code of humans living today. Scott Woodward of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation will describe the Sorenson Database, a collection of more than 60,000 DNA samples and family trees, as well as the various forms of DNA ancestry tests available. And Sandra Soo-Jin Lee of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics will comment on social and ethical implications of defining people by their DNA.

The event will be open to the pu
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Contact: Dustin Hays
dhays2@jhu.edu
202-663-5986
Genetics & Public Policy Center, Johns Hopkins University
23-Feb-2007


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