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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Helping divided families

Families separated by the Holocaust may soon be able to reunite, thanks to the unique services of the UA’s DNA Shoah Project.

The project, whose name comes from a Hebrew word for “”holocaust,”” has been creating a database of genetic material collected from Holocaust survivors and their descendants with the hope of reuniting families divided by the Holocaust.

“”It’s something where time is of the essence,”” said Matt Kaplan, project lead and a UA associate staff scientist in ecology and evolutionary biology at the Arizona Research Laboratories. “”The closest we can get to the original generation of survivors, the more accuracy we can assure and the more useful it is.””

The DNA Shoah Project has been mailing self-administered DNA tests to interested participants around the world since 2006. The test is in the form of a cheek swab, and can be safely and quickly administered at home.

The project now boasts a database of more than 1,500 samples. Those involved with the project expect the database to grow significantly as the first wave of test results come in and word of the service spreads. “”Primarily this is a person-to-person contact process,”” Kaplan said. “”We don’t ask people for credentials or anything like that. If people have a family connection to the Holocaust, we will explain the process to them and determine if they are good candidates.””

Sample testing began this year, with results to follow soon after for those who applied.

“”As far as we know, this is a unique service,”” said Lynn Davis, an information specialist at the Arizona Research Laboratories. “”For people who have exhausted the paper trail we offer something truly special.””

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