Ancient genomics and the Atlantic burden


  • Dr Daniel Bradley

Project summary

Researchers are sequencing hundreds of thousands of human genomes in order to help understand the genetic aspects of disease. However, understanding human variation by looking at modern people’s genetics is only part of the story. The past is a different country and we already know that when we examine genomes from ancient people they can make us revise our views about how our modern genomes relate to each other and how disease-related variation came about.

This project will build on our finding that the petrous bone, the hardest bone in the body, is a time capsule preserving DNA through thousands of years. We will sequence full genomes from 160 bones sampled from Irish and Portuguese prehistory to build the detailed story of how genetic variations in Altantic populations came about. The Atlantic edge is important because of its disease burdens, its relatively uncomplicated population history and its hundreds of millions of descendants worldwide.

A complete genomic history will help us understand the origins of known disease variants and also help us pinpoint those newly discovered genetic differences which might be harmful in modern patients.