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States » East

Study of ancient DNA can remove social barriers: Scientist

Kolkata, Sep 4 (UNI) With approximately 20 per cent of the world population, India is a rich repertoire of information of evolutionary genetics, ancient DNA, genomics and human evolution, according to scientist Maanasa Raghavan.
An Assistant Professor of Genetics at the University of Chicago, Prof Raghavan said India being a multicultural and multiracial country presents an ideal situation for the students of human genetics.
"India is not just one race. It is full of diversity, which makes it complex," she said in an interactive session with media, here.
However, there are gaps in DNA data in India, which prevents study and advanced research, she stated.
According to the scientist, a study of ancient DNA and its evolution can bridge social and caste-based gaps.
" Through research, we can tell people how the DNA mixing happened over the centuries as people migrated from one region to another. We can remove social barriers by enlightening them about their genetic background, that they could be linked to the very people who are so different from them," she explained.
Prof Raghavan has been working with Niraj Rai, the head of the Ancient DNA Laboratory at Lucknow’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP) in the field.
"It is my duty to make people see that what we are today is the result of centuries of DNA mixing. If this awareness can be created, social differences will cease to exist," she asserted.
Prof Raghavan has been trying to connect with archaeologists, anthropologists, and students to encourage study and research in Ancient DNA.
She is hopeful that less researched disciplines will be in focus as Indian students now have experts coming to universities and telling them what is new in the field.
"Movement of ideas and expertise is happening as Indian universities are bringing in researchers from leading universities of the world to conduct lectures and workshops. This means knowledge is no longer sedentary as it used to be a few years back," she stated.
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