Wednesday 27 August 2014

Dr Spencer Wells to give Keynote Address

Dr Spencer Wells of the National Genographic Project is to give the Keynote Address at Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2014. Dr Wells is is a leading population geneticist and director of the Genographic Project from National Geographic. 

The Genographic Project is the brainchild of Spencer Wells. First started in 2005, Dr. Wells heads a team of renowned international scientists and uses cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand the genetic roots of all humanity. 

The project has three components:
  1. To collaborate with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world in the collection and analysis of research data
  2. To involve the general public in this real-time scientific project and to learn about their own deep ancestry in the process (by purchasing the DNA Ancestry Kit, Geno 2.0)
  3. To support community-led indigenous conservation and revitalization projects
Dr Wells's own personal journey of discovery led him to enrol at the University of Texas aged only 16 years old. After graduating 3 years later, he pursued his Ph.D. at Harvard University under the tutelage of distinguished evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin. Beginning in 1994, Wells conducted postdoctoral training at Stanford University's School of Medicine with famed geneticist Luca Cavalli-Sforza, considered the "father of anthropological genetics." At Oxford University, he served as director of the Population Genetics Research Group of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford.

In 2001, he shifted his focus to communicating his scientific discovery through books and documentary films. From that was born The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, an award-winning book and documentary that aired on PBS in the U.S. and National Geographic Channel internationally. Written and presented by Wells, the film chronicled his globe-circling, DNA-gathering expeditions in 2001-02 and laid the groundwork for the Genographic Project.

Since the Genographic Project began, Wells's work has taken him to over three dozen countries, including Chad, Tajikistan, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, and French Polynesia, and he recently published his second book, Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project. 

Dr Wells will present an overview of the Genographic Project and the latest developments in his research. Not to be missed!

Dr Spencer Wells describes how DNA is helping to map human migrations out of Africa, going back over 200,000 years, and how a simple cheek swab can reveal amazing information about your deep ancestry and ethnic makeup.

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