Genographic Project Helps Launch New Ancestry Study in the Dominican Republic

Map of the Caribbean Region courtesy of National Georaphic.

‘The Dominican Republic has it all.’ That phrase is not just the slogan that tourists see when visiting the beautiful Caribbean nation, but it is also what a team of geneticists and anthropologists are hoping to show as they embark on a one-of-a-kind study across the eastern half of the island of Hispañola.

Map of the Caribbean Region. Courtesy of National Georaphic.

Drs. Theodore Schurr and Miguel Vilar, two Genographic Project scientists, recently visited the Caribbean country to help launch an ambitious project that intends to map the diversity and ancestry of the people of the Dominican Republic, and by doing so better understand the history of the region. The project is being led a team of Dominican researchers and is part of a collaboration between La Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) and La Academia Dominicana de la Historia, both in Santo Domingo, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Dr. Theodore Schurr, UNIBE student Ana Lucia Mercedes, and Dr. Robert Paulino (background) in Sanaigua, Dominican Republic. Photo by Miguel Vilar

Over the course of the next several months, researchers and students from Unibe will visit most provinces in the country and meet with people from at least 25 different communities. They hope to enroll some 1000 individuals and analyze the DNA samples and demographic histories collected from them.

“Visiting the remote communities really shows us the great diversity of our country, the culture, the idiosyncrasies of the inhabitants of the various provinces, and the richness of what we are,” explains Dr. Robert Paulino, lead researcher and UNIBE professor. “We are the instruments of mother Africa, the nobility of the indigenous Taino, and the European adventurer. That mixture is what makes us Dominicans.” Once completed, this project will be one of the most comprehensive studies conducted in a single country during —> Read More