January 11, 2003, Dr. Theodore Schurr: "A Molecular Genetic Perspective on the Peopling of the Americas."

     Recent studies of molecular genetic variation in Siberian/Asian and
Native American populations have suggested that the New World was colonized
by several expansions of ancient peoples, who brought with them multiple
founding mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome lineages. The mtDNA data
suggest that most ancestral Amerindian mtDNA haplotypes were brought to the
New World from southeastern Siberia, but some may have come from the Amur
River/Okhotsk Sea region and Eurasia. Similarly, the Y-chromosome data
suggest that most founding Y-chromosome haplotypes originated in
central-south Siberia; but, one appears to have been brought from East Asia.
These intriguing findings, along with evidence of subsequent population
expansions in Siberia/Asia, are now forcing a reevaluation of traditional
models of the peopling of the New World.
      Theodore Schurr has spent the last fourteen years investigating the
genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through laboratory studies of
mtDNA and Y-chromosome variation in Asian, Siberian and Native American
populations. As part of these research efforts, he has also conducted field
research among indigenous peoples of northeastern Siberia. Among his current
projects are studies of genetic diversity in modern Aleuts, indigenous
peoples of south-central and eastern Siberia, and archeological populations
from the Lake Baikal region. While working at the Southwest Foundation for
Biomedical Research, he was involved in the mapping and identification of
genes that contribute to cardiovascular disease risk in Native American
populations. Aside from these projects, Schurr serves as an Associate Editor
for "Current Research in the Pleistocene," a Scientific Consultant for the
"Kennewick Man" case, and a Scientific Consultant for Family Tree DNA.
Schurr is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology
at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Consulting Curator of the Physical
Anthropology Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of
Anthropology and Archaeology.

back to home page