dna project

Honestly, I did not “DNA Meet 50 Grandparents”, but that is the shortest way to declare that I met the most surprising relatives in a new DNA search.

All of my life I have said, “Oh, I’m Irish and Northern European.”  Well, yes, those are in there, but here’s the shocker.  They are numbers 12 and 15 in emphasis.  You won’t believe Numbers 1 and 2 and 3.


The Study of the Human Genome – The Amazing Project

Within a span of only 13 years, an amalgam of public and private researchers was able to successfully complete the Human Genome Project. Although these scientists used a number of different methods in their work, they nonetheless obtained the same results. In doing so, the researchers not only silenced their critics, but they also beat their own estimated project timeline by two entire years. Perhaps even more importantly, these scientists inspired an ongoing revolution in our fight against human disease and provided a new vision of the future of medicine-although that future has yet to be fully realized.

The HGP was a 13-year-long, publicly funded project initiated in 1990 with the objective of determining the DNA sequence of the entire euchromatic human genome within 15 years. In its early days, the Human Genome Project was met with skepticism by many people, including scientists and nonscientists alike. One prominent question was whether the huge cost of the project would outweigh the potential benefits. Today, however, the overwhelming success of the Human Genome Project is readily apparent. Not only did the completion of this project usher in new era in medicine, but it also led to significant advances in the types of technology used to sequence DNA.


Initial Principles and Goals of the Human Genome Project

From its inception, the Human Genome Project revolved around two key principles (International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2001). First, it welcomed collaborators from any nation in an effort to move beyond borders, to establish an all-inclusive effort aimed at understanding our shared molecular heritage, and to benefit from diverse approaches. The group of publicly funded researchers that eventually assembled was known as International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (IHGSC). Second, this project required that all human genome sequence information be freely and publicly available within 24 hours of its assembly. This founding principle ensured unrestricted access for scientists in academia and in industry, and it provided the means for rapid and novel discoveries by researchers of all types. At any given time, approximately 200 labs in the United States were funded.     In addition, more than 18 different countries from across the globe had contributed to the Human Genome Project by the time of its completion.


What is the 16-marker Genetic Profile and how is it Derived?

The technicians identify the allele pair values at 16 of an individual’s autosomal DNA loci. The 16 allele pair values make up the genetic profile.  Allele pairs are the genes inherited from each parent`s chromosomes; their values are your variations of inheritance.

DNA loci are simply ‘genetic addresses’ pinpointing the alleles’ location on a given chromosome. The FBI initially selected 13 of these 16 loci to be the core ‘markers’ of its widely adopted criminal justice database CODIS (Combined DNA Identification System), partly due to their very low rate of mutation from parent to progeny. The same system is employed in paternity testing, relationship testing and criminal justice, including emigration validation.

AutosomalDNA locienable both female and male clients to be tested for all ancestral lineages. (Earlier mitochondrial / Y-chromosome methods could only test for extreme matrilineal or patrilineal ancestry, and Y-chromosome methods only work for males.)


Back to my 10 Top Grandparents

Of course, as you can see the technology of this can be embraced in volumes and volumes and volumes, so I will put this to rest, only to encourage you to do your own study if you are interested.  Back to what to ME, is a fascinating story, and why you should pursue this if you have any interest at all.

It turns out I am first of all, mostly BASQUE!

How did that happen?   This may be the most unique family tribe on the planet.  They have a language that does not relate to any other.  They are filled with RH negative, which makes it difficult in child birth and pregnancy.  They come from “the Atlantic”.  What I mean is, NO ONE KNOWS.  They have been in the Pyrenees Mountains for “aeons”.  They have a distinctive physical appearance.  Again, I could go on and on, but how did I become BASQUE?  Let me pause here to say that this is Number 1, and therefore fascinating to me.  Everyone gets their top 50.  The list of 10 is below.

At any rate, I immediately Googled and found the Basques had emigrated to Nevada, Montana, Wyoming because they were sheepherders.  BUT, they were also WHALERS.  Turns out my people, when they were done whaling and the era itself was over, just stayed in Northeastern Canada.  So along come my father’s side of the family of Scots and Irish heritage and for 7 generations they intermarry with the residents.  Out comes a preponderance of Basque DNA in both my father’s father’s side and my father’s father’s mother’s side, etc, etc.  from the 1770s to the present day when my father’s father emigrated to Boston, along with many other of my father’s family who also came to Boston during that time.


Surprise to me, I am heavily Iberian and Italian.  I have a Brazilian Indigenous Grandparent, probably from Florida, lots of Italian, an Iraqi and a BERBER.  They were the Semitic settlers who stormed across North Africa, in the day.  Deeper in my 50 there is also Gypsy, South Asian and Southern India.

1.Iberian Peninsula – BasqueBasqueEuropean
2.Spanish – AndalusianAndalusian SpanishEuropean
3.IraqiIranicMiddle Eastern
4.South African – European – CapetownDutchEuropean
6.Algerian MozabitesBerberMiddle Eastern
7.Egyptian Arab – CairoEgyptianMiddle Eastern
8.Spanish – CantabriaNorthern SpanishEuropean
10.Brazilian – Non-Black – FloridaBrazilianSouth American
11.Italian – TuscanyItalianEuropean
12.Italian – PiedmontItalianEuropean

I write this not because I am interesting.   I write it to stimulate interest in your own profile.  And I also write this because an amazing thing has happened.

Affectionately Visualizing My South Indian, Vietnamese, Indigenous Brazilian, Andalusian and Gypsy parentage

I have begun to affectionately visualize these “grandparents”.  I embrace them.  A favorite stentorian old timey preacher in my past used to talk about the “Empirical Self”.  Lots of people think and discuss the “empirical self”, but William James was a pioneer. “We see then that we are dealing with a fluctuating material. The same object being sometimes treated as a part of me, at other times as simply mine, and then again as if I had nothing to do with it at all. In its widest possible sense, however, a man’s Self is the sum total of all that he CANcall his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank-account. All these things give him the same emotions. If they wax and prosper, he feels triumphant; if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down, – not necessarily in the same degree for each  thing, but in much the same way for all.”

My sense of “who I am” has been broadened by this experience.  You can call it a game or an extremely vivid personal experience, but I have stopped thinking of my physical self as from my four or eight or sixteen grandparents.  I know see my physical “walking around self” as a marvelous concoction of human interplay, in the most basic way.

When I saw an Iranian on TV recently, I said, “hey Cuz!”

When I saw a burly massive chested, thick armed Basque on “Longmire” on A&E TV tussling in the mountains of Wyoming, I really said:  “Hey Cuz”.  I am going to go look them up, since I live in Colorado.

This “Hey Cuz” thing may wane, but at this moment it has greatly impacted me.  And this topic, I could also go on and on about.

I am this wonderful Genetic Soup.  We are all the wonderful Genetic Soup, and the more we feel and become cognizant of this idea, (again, in our own special way, with our own special “gumbo”, “goulash” or whatever you want to call it), it comes out tasting GREAT!

I am reminded of a commercial in the 70’s:  “Try it, you’ll like it”.  You won’t need Alka Seltzer after consuming; it will make you feel good.

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