HARVARD PROFESSOR HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. JOINS FORCES WITH FAMILY TREE DNA TO LAUNCH AFRICANDNA.COM
November 16, 2007 Lifestyle News(PRLEAP.COM) BOSTON—, AfricanDNA.com, the first company dedicated to offering both genetic testing and genealogical tracing services for African Americans, is being launched this month by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, in partnership with the Inkwell Foundation and Family Tree DNA, the world's leader in genetic genealogy. The precedent-setting site is the only company in the field of genetic genealogy that will provide African Americans with family tree research in addition to DNA testing.
Gates, a celebrated author, educator and social critic, is a strong advocate of the value and benefits of genetic genealogy for African Americans. Noting that the process is still in its infancy, he says: "Most people don't realize it, but their roots are on the tips of their tongues. The available DNA data are not by any means complete, and these tests will not yield the names of any of the individuals on our distant family treesójust the general geographic areas in which our ancestors lived. Sometimes the tests yield multiple exact tribal matches, making it necessary for historians to interpret the most plausible result."
AfricanDNA is the only company that offers the service of scholars interpreting multiple matches when compared to the database. A board of historical consultants will include Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Professor, Applied Biological Anthropology, University of Maryland; Dr. Linda Heywood and Dr. John Thornton, both African historians at Boston University; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Professor of History and of African and African American Studies (Chair) at Harvard University; and Dr. David Eltis, director of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database at Emory University.
Genetic results of AfricanDNA customers will be compared with the database of Family Tree DNA, the most extensive comparative database of DNA test results in the world, including African results provided by leading anthropologists worldwide. These comparisons will point many AfricanDNA clients toward their African origins.
Long interested in genealogical research and DNA testing and particularly African DNA, Gates is the author of Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own (Crown, 2007) and the forthcoming In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, to be published next spring (Crown, 2008). He is also the host and executive producer of the critically acclaimed 2006 PBS series "African American Lives" and its follow-up, "Oprah's Roots." "African American Lives 2" will be broadcast on PBS in February, 2008 in conjunction with Black History Month. Professor Gates is Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American and African Studies. Gates, an influential cultural critic, has written for Time Magazine, The New Yorker and the New York Times. The recipient of 48 honorary degrees and a 1981 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award," Henry Louis Gates, Jr. received a National Humanities Medal in 1998, and in 1999 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Family Tree DNA, founded in April 2000, was the first company to develop the commercial application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, which, until then, had only been available for academic and scientific research. Today, Family Tree DNA's database exceeds 165,000 individual test records (roughly 110,000 Y-DNA and 55,000 mtDNA tests), making it the prime source for researching recent and distant family ties. Additionally, Family Tree DNA administers over 4400 surname projects, comprising some 65,000 unique surnames.