IHS review board in Alaska halts DNA project

A massive project to collect 100,000 samples of DNA from indigenous people has been halted in Alaska by an Indian Health Service review board.

The National Geographic Society�s Genographic Project began collecting samples from Native villages. But the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board said researchers weren't providing enough information about the risks of the study and how the DNA would be used.

�It�s a benefit to science, probably,� Dr. Mic LaRoque, a co-chairman of the board, told The New York Times. �But I�m not convinced it�s a benefit to the tribes.�

LaRoque and David Barrett, the other co-chairman, said DNA results could be used to undermine tribal rights. �What if it turns out you�re really Siberian and then, oops, your health care is gone?� asked Barrett.

Theodore G. Schurr, a researcher from University of Pennsylvania, works for the Genographic Project. He agreed to stop collecting samples at the board's request and has revised the consent form in hopes of coming back to Alaska.

Get the Story:
DNA Gatherers Hit Snag: Tribes Don't Trust Them (The New York Times 12/10)

Relevant Links:
Genographic Project -

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