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Utah project to link DNA, genealogy

Genetic markers may help Web users find kin

James Sorenson
James Sorenson

In a move they believe will forever alter the way family history research is done, local geneticists are opening a free DNA-based genealogy database to the public this week.

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is expected to announce on Monday that it has established a Web site — www.smgf.org — that allows anyone who has had a simple DNA test to input information that may link them to their ancestors, both known and unknown.

Scott Woodward, chief scientific officer for the foundation established by Utah billionaire James Sorenson, said the database is the beginning of a project his organization will continue to expand in size and scope over time. The Web site is designed to build one-sided pedigree charts — or family trees — for those looking for their paternal ancestors through genetic testing. To use the database, participants must undergo an inexpensive mouth swab test done by a genetic testing company.

Once that procedure is complete, researchers process the saliva sample through a laboratory and come up with coding sequences that define specific genetic markers people carry through their Y-chromosome DNA — their father's bloodline. Those markers can then be entered into the Web site database, which searches for links with others whose genetic information matches their own.