Summarized by Eileen Bell
DNA could take genealogy into unknown
Deseret News 23Jan00 N6
By Max Knudson: Deseret News business editor
A Utah scientist is investigating the possible connection between DNA
mapping and genealogy. Thanks to funding from Sorenson Bioscience,
BYU microbiologist Scott R. Woodward is heading research efforts.
"Each of us contains a genealogy inside the cells in our body. We got
it from our parents and they from theirs and so on down the line. We are
now unlocking that process in ways never thought possible. This is an
area that has not been touched."
"DNA is the history of who we are and where we came from. It's more
unique to an individual than anything else. Your DNA signature is
separate from everyone who has ever lived or ever will live."
Brother Woodward stresses that neither BYU nor the LDS Church has
taken a stance on the DNA connections with genealogical research.
"It's critical to say that there is no church ratification or blessing
or any statement concerning it. But as a scientific endeavor, there is
support to build the basis for this and see what we can do with it.
Because it's a church-owned school, it's a very fine line, but the board
(of trustees) has not said this is a project we should go after."
Sorenson Bioscience is owned by James L. Sorenson. He is excited
about the possibilities of the research. "The molecule tells us
thousands of things about ourselves. Not just how to cure our diseases
but who we are. It connects us as families, tribes and nations."
The research will be expensive. Brother Woodward says, "It's going to
take tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, but the
government agencies are not into funding it. But Mr. Sorenson is. He's
interested in bringing together people of like mind who want to help
fund something like this. We've been exploring that over the past seven
or eight months."
How could tracing DNA help with family history? Brother Woodward
says he had come to a dead end with his genealogy. "But if I go back
to that town in England and identify a number of DNA samples (by
asking residents to give him a blood sample) it's likely I would find my
cousins and they, hopefully, would know more about their genealogy
than I do."