Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) is an independent DNA and genealogical research institution with the goal of demonstrating how the peoples of the world are related. SMGF collects DNA samples and genealogical information from individuals across the globe to establish these connections.
SMGF originated in 1999 and was inspired by several conversations between inventor and philanthropist James LeVoy Sorenson and Brigham Young University professor Dr. Scott Woodward. Mr. Sorenson envisioned the development of a genetic-genealogical blueprint of all humankind. This blueprint, as developed by Dr. Woodward, would show how closely humans are related to one another, demonstrating the familial relationships between unique individuals. The collection of DNA samples and associated family pedigrees began in 2000, beginning first with Brigham Young University students, and quickly branching outside of Utah, then to the rest of the world.
In 2003, SMGF moved its operations from the Brigham Young University campus to Salt Lake City. SMGF also outsourced all of its laboratory work to Sorenson Genomics, freeing researchers to create a publicly available online repository. This repository is known as the Sorenson Database.
To date, SMGF has collected more than 100,000 DNA samples and familial pedigrees from donors around the world, all of which are available in the Sorenson Database. And now they have been acquired by Ancestry.com with its launch of AncestryDNA.
The Sorenson Database contains more than 100,000 DNA samples and familial pedigrees, encompassing 2.8 million genealogical records and 2.4 million genotypes.
The Sorenson Database matches genetic information with familial surnames. A person searching through the database is able to find both genetic and genealogical matches, but can search using either DNA haplotypes or familial surname. The average family pedigree contains six generations of pedigree information (more than 150 years) with over 6 million genetically linked ancestors.
Currently, the Sorenson Database has two areas for individuals to search, a Y chromosome database and a mitochondrial DNA database. The Y-DNA database allows males to search their direct paternal line; the mtDNA database allows both males and females search their direct maternal line.
One of the missions of SMGF is to connect any two individuals in the world, showing both individuals how they are related. In order to accomplish this goal, SMGF has collected DNA samples and correlated familial pedigrees from participants around the world. After reaching their 100,000 sample goal, SMGF modified their goals to focus less on collecting new samples and more on analysis of previous samples. New participants are still accepted through SMGF's subsidiary, GeneTree. Also, previous SMGF participants can buy their DNA report through GeneTree.com.
Another one of the goals of SMGF is to advance research in the scientific field of molecular genealogy. SMGF conducts research to identify additional DNA markers which link an individual to their genealogical family, however direct or distant. SMGF researchers have published a number of research papers, many of which involve collaborations with other researchers.
DNA collection for the project initially involved drawing blood samples; since August 2002, the SMGF has used a mouthwash-based collection method (GenetiRinse), which has the advantage that it can be mailed to participants living in remote areas.
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- "Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation’s Genetic Genealogy Database Crosses Historic Milestone with 100,000 DNA Samples, Aided by Multi-Million Dollar Gift from Founder" (Press release). Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. April 28, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
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