Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The DNA Shoah Project

Imaging being a survivor and not knowing who your parents were? Of if they were even alive. Or a surviving parent with no idea what became of your children. Now, there is a new effort underway to apply the power of genetic testing to the problem of the holocaust missing.

The DNA Shoah Project will collect the DNA of survivors and store it all in a database. Eventually, this information will be cross-checked against itself and other data looking for matches. One can easily imagine infants torn apart in the holocaust reuniting as in their golden years because of this technology.

The "holy grail" of this project is to collect DNA from the murdered. Frankly, I have no idea how the science to do that works, but I know that in this day and age, something as insignificant as a hair can positively identify on of the 6 million - and link them to one or more of the 6 billion who live today.

Here is the email I received:
Mr. Semmel, shalom - I found your wonderful Przemysl blog today via a link from Tracing the Tribe and I wanted to share our project with you.

The DNA Shoah Project is a non-profit, humanitarian effort at the University of Arizona aiming to reunite families disrupted by the Holocaust. We are building a database of genetic material from Shoah survivors and their immediate descendants in an attempt to match displaced relatives, provide wartime orphans and lost children with information about their biological families and eventually, when the database has reached sufficient size, assist in the identification of Holocaust-era victims whose remains continue to surface. The project contains an educational component as well, employing current science and technology to teach the Holocaust in our schools. There is no cost to participants.

The project’s cofounders include Syd Mandelbaum, a scientist with a background in genetics and the son of two Holocaust survivors, and Dr. Michael Hammer, a renowned research scientist at the University of Arizona who specializes in human population genetics.

The success of our work depends on the creation of as large a database as possible. We are actively seeking DNA samples from survivors and second- and third-generation family members and we are traveling extensively to promote the project. We hope to use this window of opportunity to gather as many DNA samples as we can from survivors and their descendants around the globe, thereby creating a genetic testimony and legacy for victims of the Holocaust.

I invite you to visit our web site for additional information and I encourage you to view the short video found there, as it provides an excellent introduction to the project.

I hope you will see fit to share this information with your readership. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, or to request additional materials.

Sincerely,

Lynn Davis
Information Specialist
The DNA Shoah Project

toll-free: (866) 897-1150
www.dnashoah.org
info@dnashoah.org

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