Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and International University of Kyrgyzstan Announce Progress, Expansion Plans for Joint DNA Collection Project
Partnership Has Thus Far Collected More Than 300 DNA Samples from Major Kyrgyzstan Populations. New Kyrgyzstan Collaboration Partner Announced, Together with Plans to Extend the Project to Additional Central Asian Nations. This Collaboration is a Centerpiece of SMGF's Ongoing Effort to Expand the World's Leading Central Asia Genetic Genealogy Database.
SALT LAKE CITY & BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), a non-profit scientific organization that has created the world's most diverse and comprehensive collection of genetic genealogy information, and the International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK), Kyrgyzstan's flagship institution of higher learning, today reported significant progress in their collaborative research partnership to study genetic genealogies, migration and demographic patterns of Kyrgyzstan's various populations.
“Kyrgyzstan is a little known but fascinating and genetically significant country - its demographic makeup might contribute important clues to the unique Central Asian phenomenon of significant differentiation between geographically close populations combined with relative genetic homogeneity within some populations.”
The SMGF-IUK partnership was established in October 2006 to discover and preserve essential genetic genealogy information for Kyrgyzstan through the collection of DNA samples and corresponding genealogical records. The project was designed in concert with Dr. Asylbek A. Aidaraliev, president of the International University of Kyrgyzstan, and Dr. Djenish Djunushaliev, director of the Kyrgyzstan Institute of History and a member of Kyrgyzstan's National Academy of Science. Essential stated goals for the collaboration include:
Since the collaboration with IUK began, SMGF has collected 364 DNA samples from three ethnic populations in Kyrgyzstan: the Kyrgyz, Dungan and Uyghur groups.
"We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made thus far on this project," said Dr. Scott Woodward, executive director of SMGF. "Kyrgyzstan is a little known but fascinating and genetically significant country - its demographic makeup might contribute important clues to the unique Central Asian phenomenon of significant differentiation between geographically close populations combined with relative genetic homogeneity within some populations."
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked Central Asian country characterized by dramatic, rugged mountain terrain and strong nomadic traditions. Despite a relatively small population (just over 5.2 million in 2006), the country contains a wide variety of ethnic groups, with a large number of primary languages. While approximately 65 percent of the population is comprised of indigenous Kyrgyz residents, more than 13 percent of residents have Uzbek ancestry, and 12.5 percent of residents are of Russian descent - a reminder of the fact that Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864. The country achieved independence from the then-Soviet Union in 1991.
"This collaborative project will be invaluable to the nation of Kyrgyzstan and its people," said Dr. Aidaraliev. "It will serve to preserve priceless family histories, genetic and cultural information that might otherwise have gotten lost through the passage of time and continued migration of people to and from our country."
SMGF and IUK also announced today that they will add a third partner to the Kyrgyzstan collaboration: the Department of Anthropology at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) will help to conduct fieldwork with their students in various populations throughout the country.
"We are delighted to involve our students in this interesting collaborative project. This project will expand local knowledge and understanding of population present in the country as well as help assessing cultural and social change due to recent migration," said Dr. Aigerim Dyikanbaeva, Head of the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Archeology at American National University. "I am confident that this project will provide important insight in analyzing existing data and collecting new essential information to make this study more accessible and useful to the general public."
Ultimately, the partners intend to collect 800 to 1,100 DNA samples in Kyrgyzstan, and a total of 5,000 or more samples in Kyrgyzstan and additional Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. SMGF is currently in the process of establishing strategic partnerships with historians and anthropologists from government agencies and universities in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, under the direction of Dr. Aidaraliev of IUK.
The Kyrgyzstan project is a major addition to SMGF's Central Asia collections, already an unparalleled resource for genetic genealogy research in the region. In September 2007, SMGF partnered with the National University of Mongolia to complete the largest DNA collection in the history of Mongolia: 3,000 samples from 24 or more of that nation's major ethnic groups, tribes and clans.
For more information about SMGF's DNA collections throughout the world, visit www.smgf.org/maps/collections.jspx.
About Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF; www.smgf.org) is a non-profit research organization that has created the world's largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information. The SMGF database currently contains information about more than six million ancestors through linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from more than 170 countries, or approximately 90 percent of the nations of the world. The foundation's purpose is to foster a greater sense of identity, connection and belonging among all people by showing how closely we are connected as members of a single human family. For more information about the Foundation's free, publicly available database, visit www.smgf.org.
About the International University of Kyrgyzstan
The International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUM) was established in 1993. The University is dedicated to the enhancement and development of new scientific-research programs in informatics and computing, system analysis, ecology, biotechnology, management, economy, law and social sciences. IUM focuses on the practical application of scientific research and educational programs in accordance with existing market demands for is 1,400 students.
About the American University of Central Asia
The American University of Central Asia (KAS) was founded in 1997. KAS was established to bring a higher level of learning to Kyrgyzstan, based on American models. The University is dedicated to improving the quality of education it offers by adding new programs and services in order to equip its graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for the modern world. The Department of Anthropology at the American University of Central Asia is the only of its kind in Central Asia.