The research is conducted by Dr. Yaniv Erlich, principal investigator and fellow at Whitehead Institute. At the heart of the research are family trees with more than 43 million anonymized public profiles from MyHeritage’s Geni.com World Family Tree - a massive genealogy dataset created by collective research of casual and expert family historians.
“Family trees are basic yet powerful assets in human genetics,” said Dr. Yaniv Erlich. “Until now, the use of large scale genealogy data in genetic research has not been fully tapped. We are extremely excited about this collaboration and hope that this research will contribute to the broad scientific community and to the public good.”
As a proof of concept, the research team analyzed the immigration patterns of individuals in these family trees, displaying them graphically in a time lapse video. The video exemplifies how historical events correlate well with the mosaic of personal stories found in the data, such as the arrival of the Mayflower and the emergence of family trees in New England.
“We’re thrilled to work with the prestigious Whitehead Institute at MIT to help give science better understanding of people around the world, who they are and where they come from," said Noah Tutak, General Manager of MyHeritage, USA and former CEO of Geni.com.