Worldwide Hebridian DNA study to examine link between disease and genes

Researchers say the unique and distinct Hebridian gene pool could shed light on the causes of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and potentially point to new treatments for the general population.

The genetic makeup of the people of the islands – what previous research has shown to be different from the rest Scotland – will allow researchers to investigate how variations in Hebridian DNA affect the health of local people and the benefits they may have.

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The University of Edinburgh study – which aims to recruit 2,000 people – will not be limited to people living in the Inner or Outer Hebrides, but will also include people with Hebridian grandparents who live anywhere in the world.

Like these hardy spirits extracted from St. Kilda in 1930, Hebridian islanders have unique DNA

participants They will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about their health and lifestyle and to return a saliva sample by mail, which the researchers will use for genetic analysis.

volunteers Those who live in the UK can choose to have specific genetic information from a sample of their saliva. This information, provided in collaboration with the NHS, can help prevent future disease.

The MRC-funded research builds on the work of the Viking Gene Study, which recruited more than 8,000 volunteers with Orkney or Shetland ancestry.

Professor Jim Wilson, lead researcher and Chair of Human Genetics, said: “The expansion of the Viking gene study will allow us to trace the unique genetic heritage of the Inner and Outer Hebrides. We will explore how distinct gene pools today contribute to disease risk.” examines how Norse, Scottish and Irish components of ancestry influence and in the various Hebridian islands.

Tom Conti: Previous DNA study discovered link between Paisley-born actor and Napoleon Bonaparte

The study also involved Professor Zosia Midzebrodzka and Dr John Dean, doctors from the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian Clinical Genetics.

A previous study of the DNA of people living in Scotland, led by Professor Wilson, revealed “extraordinary” and “unexpected” diversity across the country.

Scotland’s DNA Project tested nearly 1,000 Scots to determine the genetic roots of the people in the country.

This led to the discovery of four new male lineages, accounting for one in 10 Scottish males.

It was also found that actor Tom Conti is related to Napoleon Bonaparte.

The scientists were able to pinpoint a participant’s DNA marker, from which they tracked the individual’s history and ancestry.

Conti and Napoleon both share the M34, which is Saracen in origin.

The project found that Scotland has about 100 different groups of male ancestry from across Europe and beyond and more than 150 different types of female DNA from Europe, Asia and Africa.

DNA from Scotland also found that more than 1% of all Scots are direct descendants of the Berber and Tuareg tribesmen of the Sahara, a lineage that is approximately 5600 years old.

Royal Stewart DNA was confirmed in 15% of male participants with the Stewart surname. They are directly descended from the royal lineage of kings.

Scientists believe the ancestors of comedian and presenter Fred McAulley were slaves who were sold at Dublin’s great slave market in the 9th century, despite their name suggesting a Viking heritage.

Macaulay’s slave ancestor was taken to the Hebrides by ship and had an affair with the owner’s wife, infiltrating DNA into the Macaulay line.

Those who wish to participate in the new study can register their interest here:,

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