DNA Shoah Project Curriculum Helps Students Understand Holocaust -- Genetics Being Used to Teach About the Holocaust, Unite Survivors and their Descendants

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The DNA Shoah Project, a non-profit effort at the University of Arizona working to reunite Holocaust survivors and their immediate descendants, offers genetics-based curriculum modules that teach lessons of the Holocaust for the biology classroom. Lessons are designed for both high school students and adult learners and are available free of charge.

The DNA Shoah Project announces the launch of a multimedia curriculum employing genetics to teach about the Holocaust. The Project's learning modules are designed to supplement existing Holocaust education materials already available for humanities, history, and the arts and bring lessons of the Holocaust into the biology classroom.

"Historically accurate curricula about the Holocaust is so very important," stressed Matthew Kaplan, DNA Shoah Project research coordinator. "Our curriculum designers have created a set of learning materials that are both compelling and scrupulously accurate."

The Project's unique curriculum, aimed at both high school students and adult learners, capitalizes on the enthusiasm currently surrounding forensic science and offers a science-based activity with both contemporary and historical ramifications. Introductory activities provide social context and insight into the Holocaust through survivor video testimony; follow-up activities move students into the science behind the DNA Shoah Project's family reunification efforts. The lesson culminates with a sample forensic reconstruction and the construction of an unknown DNA profile. Supplemental materials include annotated teacher's guides, discussion questions and student worksheets.

"By using science to build the learning activities, we are helping students understand the very same science that will be used to build our project's genetic database of Holocaust survivors," Kaplan continued. "We believe the introduction of our curriculum modules is particularly timely since younger people today have a strong interest in forensic science."

The curriculum materials are all free of charge and available via the Project's website, http://www.dnashoah.org.

The cutting edge science upon which the curriculum is based also forms the foundation for the work of the non-profit DNA Shoah Project, part of Arizona Research Laboratories (ARL's) Division of Biotechnology. The Project is building a forensic database of genetic information from Holocaust survivors and their immediate descendants in an effort to reunite families torn apart by the Holocaust.

More than sixty years after the Second World War, thousands of families still seek information about loved ones who disappeared. The DNA Shoah Project aims to match displaced relatives and provide Holocaust orphans and lost children with information about their biological families. The work is urgent, as the world is losing aging Holocaust survivors at an alarming rate. The Project's goal is to collect as many DNA samples as possible from the international community of survivors and their families.

"The DNA Shoah Project stands at a unique nexus of science and history," ARL Director Michael Cusanovich said. "We are proud at Arizona Research Laboratories to be able to provide the support through our Genomic Analysis Technology Core to make this Project possible. We are also proud to support the educational curriculum the Project is building."

The DNA Shoah Project grew from project founder Syd Mandelbaum's quest to develop a database of the Holocaust's missing. The son of survivors, Mandelbaum was introduced to Dr. Michael Hammer, a geneticist at the University of Arizona and director of the Genomic Analysis and Technology Core facility within ARL's Division of Biotechnology. The DNA Shoah Project grew for their meeting and subsequent collaboration.


The DNA Shoah Project is a non-profit, humanitarian effort housed at the University of Arizona aiming to reunite families torn apart by the Holocaust. The Project is building a database of genetic material from survivors and their immediate descendants in an attempt to match displaced relatives and provide Shoah orphans and lost children with information about their biological families. There is no cost to participate. Donations are tax-deductible. Please visit http://www.dnashoah.org for additional information.

DNA Shoah Project Media Contact:
Lynn Davis

DNA Shoah Research Coordinator:
Matthew Kaplan


The University of Arizona's Arizona Research Laboratories (ARL, comprises a group of researchers solving critical scientific problems and generating knowledge for the future. The organization's structure and values promote innovation through dynamic interdisciplinary collaborations. ARL has been a leader in interdisciplinary science and research for almost 30 years.

ARL Contact:
Michael Cusanovich, Ph.D.
PO Box 210077
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077


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