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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Collects Panamanian DNA

On the heels of last week’s announcement that Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) will be collecting DNA samples in Mongolia comes new information that the company will be conducting a similar project in Panama.

According to the announcement, SMGF has partnered with the Gorgas Memorial Institute (Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud Panama) and will attempt to collect 1,500 to 2,000 DNA samples with pedigree charts. The project will gather DNA from each of Panama’s nine provinces and three territories and will include individuals from all major ethnic groups, and from both urban and rural areas:

“We are honored to join with Gorgas Memorial Institute, Panama‘s primary institute for health and population studies, to study this country’s diverse, multi-faceted populations,” said Dr. Scott Woodward, executive director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. “Panama is a fascinating melting pot, its genetic and cultural mix having been influenced by a broad array of Native American populations, Africans from the slave trade, and Europeans and Asians from multiple eras.”

Panama, of course, has always been a land bottleneck, forcing all southward human migrations through a 60-mile-wide corridor. As a result, the country has “been heavily trafficked by various Native American populations emigrating north and south, Africans from the slave trade, Spanish conquistadores and other European explorers and settlers, and various Asian populations working on the Panama Canal and other projects.”

Interestingly, the project will also analyze ancient bone samples that were recently discovered in Panama Viejo. Panamanian project leaders are hoping that this will help bolster Panama’s national identity:

“ ‘Knowing the genetic composition of the people that lived in Panama more than 1000 years ago may give us proof that permanent human settlement has been present here for a long time and that this country is not only a bridge for people to walk by,’ said Motta. Knowing the genetic mix of our people will also teach us that we are not simply made of whites, blacks, American Indians and Asians, but that we are a rich and beautiful mixture of all of these races.’”

SMGF has a map that displays all the areas in the world in which the project has performed DNA collection projects.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

5 Comments

  1. I hope that there was some DNA analysis done of the Kuna Indians on the Carribbean coast of Panama, as they are some of the smallest people on earth.

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