Bryan Sykes Dies, Pioneer in Informing People About Their Ancestry #dna

Jan Meisels Allen

Bryan Sykes was an Oxford geneticist.  A pioneer in realizing the possibility of using mitochondrial DNA to reveal a person’s genetic history died at age 73, in Edinburgh on December 10.  He was a researcher specializing in inherited bone diseases who in the late 1980s was drawn into the field of ancient DNA—that which passes from mother to child which could b traced the deep origins of human populations. Dr. Sykes had a hunch that mitochondrial DNA, which passes largely intact from mother to child, could be used to trace the deep origins of human populations. He studied hamsters to prove his hypothesis. He became one of Britain’s’ best-known scientists, and through his books and TV appearances gave millions of people access to their distant pasts.


His book The Seven Daughters of Eve published in 2001 resulted in readers learning that most modern Europeans can trace their roots to one of seven women who lived from 10,000 to 45,000 years ago and in turn descended from African-born Eve. He turned this book success to a direct-to consumer genetic testing service Oxford Ancestors.


To read the New York Times obituary see:



Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee



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