by Shantal Der Boghosian
January 31, 2013

Technological and medical advances in the last decade have opened many
doors to research and development. It seems that the more answers we
find, the more complex and layered our questions become. DNA testing
is one of the advances that have become more readily available to the
public. DNA is a self-replicating material present in all living
things as the main constituent of chromosomes. A human normally has 23
pairs of chromosomes and inherits the 2 sets of chromosomes from
his/her parents. Two of the chromosomes are the sex chromosomes: If
you have an XY chromosome, you are a male, and if you have an XX
chromosome, you are a female. DNA testing allows a person to determine
changes in genes that may indicate a specific disorder, and the test
results can reveal a large amount of family history.

To learn more about the project, visit www.familytreedna.com and
search for the "Armenia DNA Project."

But what if you wanted a genetic map of your ancestry? What if you
wanted to know if all families that shared your last name were related
to you genetically? This is particularly important to Armenians,
considering the variability of Armenian last names and the destruction
of genealogical records of Ottoman-Armenians during the genocide. A
group of scientists decided to find answers to these questions, and
began the Armenian DNA Project.

The Armenian DNA Project was launched in September 2009 by Hovann
Simonian, Peter Hrechdakian, and Mark Arslan to help researchers from
common or related families work together to find their shared
heritage, to identify and confirm genetic Lineages of ancestral
families, and to ultimately catalogue pedigrees and genetic
connections of all known project families. The Armenian DNA Project
works in close cooperation with Levon Yepiskoposyan, a professor at
the Institute of Molecular Biology. Yepiskoposyan began his ambitious
experiment in January 2010, aiming to reconstruct the genetic history
of Armenia and provide a precise interpretation of Armenians' genetic
DNA makeup. In 2010, he administered a blood test to 500 male
Armenians, free of charge. In human genetic genealogy, use of the
information contained in the Y chromosome is of particular interest
since, unlike other chromosomes, the Y chromosome is passed on
exclusively from father to son. Testing the Y chromosome can provide
insight into the recent and ancient genetic ancestry, as a human male
should largely share the same Y chromosome as his father, give or take
a few mutations. Similar genetic sequences on the Y chromosome can
reveal that two males are related. Although Yepiskoposyan focuses only
on males, the same test can be conducted on females by studying their
mitochondrial DNA, as the mitochondria is passed from mother to child.

The founders of the Armenian DNA Project aim to find genetic traces of
both the ancient peoples whose descendants make up the current
Armenian population, and the ancient invaders who conquered or passed
through Armenian lands. The project is open to individuals with direct
paternal or maternal ancestors of Armenian ancestry. To learn more
about the project, visit www.familytreedna.com and search for the
"Armenia DNA Project."

For readers who have studied DNA in biology, you'll recall that
chromosomes are very stringy, so what better recipe to share with you
than spun sugar? All I ask from you is that you follow this recipe
carefully and do not burn yourself!