University of Arizona Genetic Research Study Seeks Participants
Researchers at the Steele Memorial Children's Research Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center are seeking participants for a genetic study to predict hair, eye and skin color from a DNA sample. The study is funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research and development branch of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Murray Brilliant, PhD, UA professor of Pediatrics in Mammalian Genetics and principal investigator of the study, is seeking 1,000 male and female volunteers, ages 18-40, of all ethnic backgrounds. Researchers will collect a DNA sample by brushing the inside of the volunteer's cheek and snipping a small hair sample. They also will measure how much light the participant's skin reflects. Volunteers will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire and will receive compensation.
"The results of this study could enhance DNA testing," Dr. Brilliant says. "We hope to give law enforcement professionals better forensic tools, as we learn more about the genetics of pigmentation."
Currently, forensic geneticists take DNA samples from a crime scene and try to match them with DNA samples from specific individuals. With his expertise in the genetics of human pigmentation, Dr. Brilliant believes he can create a system using forensic DNA to predict with a high degree of accuracy what a person looks like.
"Human pigmentation is genetically programmed and we know that most of the variation of human pigmentation is the result of the action of only four or so genes," Dr. Brilliant says. "We have identified two of those genes in our earlier studies and we will examine those plus two other genes implicated in pigmentation variation. The ultimate goal is to create a specific set of analyses so that a human DNA sample can be a useful forensic tool to predict hair, eye and skin color."
PLEASE NOTE: Individuals interested in participating should call Donelle Myers, 626-7053.