The DNA Shoah Project

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Lublin, Poland family of five. Courtesy of the Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can participate in the project?

The project serves Holocaust survivors, including orphans, and/or their second- and third-generation descendants. The project also serves those displaced by the Shoah who may be looking to locate or identify lost relatives.

As we are not looking along maternal or paternal lines of inheritance in our inquiry, both men and women are viable participants in the project. Our testing will examine autosomal DNA, comprised of the 22 pairs of chromosomes that are not sex-linked. This does not permit as deep an investigation, time-wise, but is more suited for establishing kinship relationships within two or three generations, without gender limitations.


Q: How long will the project take to complete?

We are currently in the earliest stages of collecting DNA from eligible participants. There are many variables influencing the rate of collection, including geography, political events and the innovative technologies involved in this effort, and we do not have a precise timeline for notifying participants of potential matches. For this reason, we ask all participants to designate a family representative whose contact information is likely to remain the same for the next 3-5 years.


Q: What is the process of notification?

Since the timeline for analysis has not been delineated, it is not clear when we will be notifying participants of matches. We will notify every participant of a match, either by telephone or in writing, but it is up to the participant to decide whether or not to pursue contact with identified matches.


Q: How do I know my information is confidential and secure?

Our database is divided into multiple sub-databases where genetic data is kept separate from personal contact information. Multiple clearances are required to access any information, and only in the case of a match would personal data be made available. Our security procedures are modeled after proven methods for database security involving sensitive medical information.


Q: How do I know my genetic and my personal or contact information will not be exploited or used for cross purposes?

Your privacy is of the utmost importance and your genetic information will be held in strictest confidence. Federal laws governing human subjects research, along with stringent regulations set forth by the University of Arizona's Institutional Review Board, ensure that out practices are held to the highest scientific, ethical and regulatory standards. The DNA Shoah Project will not conduct any research on genetic samples not will participants' information be shared with any other entity or organization. More information may be found here.


Q: In your literature, you mention the relevance of a DNA database to identifying the remains of victims in mass graves. Does this mean you will be excavating Jewish remains?

No. Periodically, mass graves are uncovered as a result of urban expansion in Europe and, sometimes, targeted excavations by other humanitarian organizations. Actual excavation or exhumation is outside the scope of this project. However, we will make our database available to those organizations who have already secured approval to exhume and/or identify the remains of suspected Holocaust victims.


Q: Is there a fee to participate?

No. There is no fee to become involved, contribute DNA or receive notification of potential matches. However, as a nonprofit entity, we do accept donations from both individuals and organizations. More information about charitable contributions to this project can be found here.


Q: How can I get involved in organizing a collection?

The success of this project depends on amassing as large a database as possible, from contributors around the globe. The more participants we have, the greater the possibility of reuniting families. To this end, we are looking to launch a series of large-scale remote collections at Jewish and other community organizations nationwide. If you are interested in administering such a collection, please click here.


Q: What are the DNA Shoah Project's affiliations and who are its sponsors?

Intial funding for the DNA Shoah Project has been generously provided by Arizona Research Laboratories (ARL) at the University of Arizona.

The project operates under the auspices of the Genomic Analysis and Technology Core (GATC) facility, a division of ARL that provides state-of-the-art molecular biology services to both academic and private sector researchers. More information may be found here.

Your tax-deductible donations made through the University of Arizona Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, enable us to expand our work throughout the country and around the world. For more information, or to donate, click here.

The DNA Shoah Project

P. O. Box 210240

Tucson, AZ 85721

(520) 626-6203

Toll-free: (866) 897-1150


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