And since discovering my Mali family connection, my reaction to news about Malians is more personal. I recently read about a fire in a New York apartment that killed several Malian immigrant children, and I thought 'Those were our children!' Now I research villages associated with my African ancestors and I wonder if there is some way I can help them personally.
SALT LAKE CITY (PRWEB) April 11, 2007
Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), a research organization with the world's most comprehensive database linking human genetic and genealogical information, today announced its collection has now exceeded 4 million records of DNA-family history data.
The free SMGF database is unique in that it can link an individual's genetic profile to specific ancestors by name going back six to eight generations or further. The non-profit foundation was established by biotech billionaire James LeVoy Sorenson to foster goodwill and fellowship among humankind by showing scientifically how closely related each person is to every other.
The foundation uses the relatively new science of molecular genealogy to establish connections among individuals and families back through time by using information encoded in DNA. This genetic tool is transforming the popular hobby of family history research because it is like a global positioning system fix, establishing ancestry and relationships via genetic-genealogy databases.
A visitor to the SMGF Web site (http://www.smgf.org) can enter the numerical values from their own DNA profile and search for likely forebears on a database of more than 4 million total ancestors representing linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from 107 countries, or more than half of the nations of the world. A DNA profile is obtained through a readily available cheek-swab genetic test offered by many laboratories and genealogy services.
In Sept. 2006, SMGF added an mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) search feature to the database permitting maternal line research in addition to its existing Y-chromosome paternal line search capability. "This was impossible just a few years ago, and it is a huge step forward," said Dr. Scott Woodward, who is executive director of the foundation and one of the world's leading researchers in molecular genealogy. "Mitochondrial DNA is a powerful tool for tracing maternal ancestry for both men and women because it is inherited exclusively by children from their mothers." The mtDNA search feature also means that women can research their ancestry on the database directly using their own genetic test results rather than having to use a male relative's Y-chromosome DNA profile.
The foundation's database is multi-cultural and multi-racial and collaborates with many universities around the world. In 2006 the foundation went to Iraq, India, Thailand, Mongolia as well as South America to collect DNA samples and their corresponding pedigree charts. One result is that genealogy projects of people whose ancestry is difficult to trace--like Americans descended from enslaved Africans imported to the U.S.--are making family connections by querying the database.
For example, Myrna Hill of Los Angeles, Calif., compared her mtDNA profile to those on the foundation database and found exact matches to people in villages of Mali, Africa. "I started researching my family history five years ago," said Hill. "My mother's side was mysterious because she had been orphaned at age 6 and she and her siblings had died, so facts were difficult to find."
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database helped Hill leap that barrier. "I found two exact matches on the mtDNA database from Mali and most of my other matches are from Mali, as well," she said. "And since discovering my Mali family connection, my reaction to news about Malians is more personal. I recently read about a fire in a New York apartment that killed several Malian immigrant children, and I thought 'Those were our children!' Now I research villages associated with my African ancestors and I wonder if there is some way I can help them personally."
The foundation Web site includes three new interactive world maps for an overview of the database. On Y-chromosome and mtDNA world distribution maps, a visitor can choose a year and then click on a specific country to reveal how many paternal or maternal ancestry lines in the database correspond to that particular time and place. In addition, a sample-collection world map shows the number of samples obtained in each country by clicking on a map location.
Participation in the foundation's mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA databases is free, convenient and private. Simply request a kit on the SMGF website and then submit a DNA sample and an accompanying four-generation pedigree chart. Any individual can query the SMGF database for genetic-genealogy information for free by obtaining their DNA profile from a commercial genomics laboratory and entering the results into the Web site's database search menu.
About Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is a non-profit research organization with the mission: To collect DNA samples within a genealogical context for creating the world's most comprehensive correlated genetic and genealogical database. To provide the funding necessary to construct genetic tools from the information contained within the database for the purpose of family history research. And, to maintain the integrity of the database content to ensure it is used for purposes that will promote peace, compassion and fellowship among humankind. Visit http://www.smgf.org.