Personal Genetics Education Project

In the news: Error in study of ancient African genome led to incorrect conclusion

A few months ago we blogged about the publication of the first genome sequence from an ancient African, in which the authors concluded that an ancient “back migration” of humans from the Middle East into Africa had left traces of Eurasian DNA in the genomes of Africans throughout the continent today.

As it turns out, the researchers made some mistakes when using certain computer software to analyze the genome data. After the study’s publication, another group of scientists reanalyzed the original data, which the study authors shared, and came to different conclusions: there is almost no sign of Eurasian DNA in the genomes of today’s western and southern Africans. The original authors have since confirmed the errors and promptly published a correction note. The conclusion that the genomes of today’s East Africans contain significant amounts of DNA that can be traced back to the peoples of Europe and Asia, who back-migrated into Africa after the lifetime of this ancient genome’s owner, remains correct. However, this migration did not reach too far beyond East Africa.

While the errors in the computer analysis could conceivably have been caught earlier, this incident is a good demonstration of the self-corrective power of the scientific process. It also highlights the importance for scientists to be open in sharing their data, so that other researchers can make use of them to advance science – and to catch the occasional mistake and correct the scientific record!

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In the News

Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org shared National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Becoming a Scientist with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins.
Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org

An event that our teacher friends may find useful: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Monday, Dec 10th from 3:15-45 pm ET, where he will take questions from middle school students from across the US. You are invited to livestream this event to your classroom and submit your students' questions in the event feed's comments section!

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
How can you start a career in STEM? Join NIH Director & geneticist Dr. Francis Collins on December 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm ET for a conversation featuring Johnson Creek Middle School on becoming a scientist. Dr. Collins will be taking questions from middle school students from across the U.S.!
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