Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First DNA test for the second doge

Thanks to the 300 DNA kits that were sent to us from Barcelona, today we finally collected the first DNA sample as part of our collaboration with National Geographic on the Genographic project.  As announced in prior posts, our first "subject" was Count Girolamo Marcello, possibly a direct descendant of the second doge Tegalliano Marcello.  
It took us a little longer than we thought to get this done because we first had to translate the Genographics consent form from English to Italian, but we finally did it!  Moreover, our procedure had to first be approved by the WPI Institutional Review Board since we are dealing with human subjects.  Having done that, the origins team printed 350 adhesive labels with the secret personal ID codes provided by the Genographics project and also produced a small business card that we can give to those who volunteer for the samples, with instructions on how to use the secret code to access their confidential test results. Over Thanksgiving break, two members of the team will be traveling to Barcelona to visit the Unitat de Biologia Evolutiva at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra where the 300 samples will be analyzed and matched against the large database accumulated thus far by Genographic.  During this trip, we plan to deliver the first couple of dozen samples to Dr. Comas in Barcelona, hoping that they can be analyzed before the end of this anniversary term, in time to be included in the team's report as preliminary results of the effort.  Immediately after the first DNA sample, the students collected the second one.  Can you guess who the second subject was?  This is only the beginning!