People of the British Isles
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People of the British Isles (PoBI) is an ongoing population genetics project based at the University of Oxford. The project began in 2004 and is ongoing. It is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, and is currently on a second five-year grant. The project is led Professor Sir Walter Bodmer. Bruce Winney is the Project Manager
So far the project has taken around 4,500 blood samples from people in the UK. The people sampled, from the whole of the United Kingdom, must have four grandparents who lived in the same rural area as themselves. Although based at the University of Oxford, samples have been collected by a number of other British universities, and data shared. An approximately equal number of male and female were collected, with a median age at collection of 65 years.
Despite the name of the project, sampling is restricted to the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). A separate and unrelated project known as the Irish DNA Atlas Project is investigating the genetic make up of the whole of Ireland.
The project looks at around 600,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (genetic markers), including genes on the Y chromosome and in mitochondrial DNA. The project is run in collaboration with Professor Peter Donnelly at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. Blood samples (20ml each) are collected from each volunteer and the peripheral blood lymphocytes separated off and frozen down. DNA is prepared from the blood residue and is the DNA source for the analysis. Once this source of DNA has run out for an individual sample, a cell line can be created from the lymphocytes, which ensures a permanent source of DNA for further work. A number of normal phenotypes are now being collected for each volunteer, including three-dimensional face photographs. Analysis of this data set is being undertaken in collaboration with Professor Josef Kittler of the University of Surrey.
In an initial pilot project, the genetic markers that were chosen included:
- HLA - human leukocyte antigen, the human major histocompatibility complex including HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C and HLA-DQ, HLA-DR
- the ABO blood group system
- the Y-chromosome
Most of southern, eastern and central England has shown very close genetic similarity with modern populations in the Low Countries, Germany and Denmark, which has been interpreted as representing a major contribution by the Anglo-Saxons, while the populations of areas such as Wales and Cornwall are closer to populations of modern-day western France. 
- Kershaw N and Røyrvik EC. The ‘People of the British Isles’ project and Viking settlement in England. Antiquity 90 (354): 1670-1680. Published online: 21 November 2016. For a summary of the content see the article by the authors on The extent of Viking settlement written for UCL’s Institute of Archaeology blog.
- Leslie S, Winney B, Hellenthal G et al (2015). The fine-scale genetic structure of the British population. Nature 519: 309–314. The full text and supplementary data are available via UCL Discovery
- Bodmer W (2015). Genetic characterization of human populations: from ABO to a genetic map of the British people]. Genetics 199: 267-279.
- Winney B, Boumertit A, Day T et al (2102). People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis of genotypes and surnames in a UK-control population. European Journal of Human Genetics (2012) 20, 203–210.
- Tyler-Smith C, Xue Y (2012). A British approach to sampling (commentary on the research paper). European Journal of Human Genetics (2012) 20, 129–130.
- Mckie Robin. Face of Britain: How Our Genes Reveal the History of Britain. Simon & Schuster, 2007.
Videos, DVDs and radio
Garrett Hellenthal gave a presentation on the People of the British Isles Project at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015. A recording of the lecture is available on YouTube from the link below.
Other videos that might be of interest include:
- The People of the British Isles: The genetic landscape of Islay A film by Barry J Gibb for the Welcome Trust.
- Face of Britain (DVD). Wag TV, 2008. (Programme originally shown on British TV in 2008).
- BBC Inside Science, Radio 4 19 March 2015 Adam Rutherford interviews Peter Donnelly, the lead researcher from the People of the British Isles Project
- Kennett D. People of the British Isles Project. Cruwys News blog, 4 July 2012. A report from the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition.
- Keeling J. "What makes the British?". Oxford Today, Trinity Term 2013, Volume 25, Number 2, pp26-28. A report on the People of the British Isles Project.
- Hickey P. People of the British Isles: A great analysis of a fascinating data set. "My home on the web", a personal blog by Peter Hickey, 28 November 2012
- People of the British Isles Project website (new)
- People of the British Isles Project website (old)
- Faces of the British Isles
- Professor Sir Walter Bodmer's Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory at the University of Oxford
- The People of the British Isles Project at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition 2012 The website includes a low-resolution genetic map and video interviews with Professor Sir Walter Bodmer and Dr Peter Donnelly.
- Great Britain Family Names Profiling
- British, More or Less BBC Radio 4, 27 July 2011. The broadcaster Tracy Logan discusses the People of the British Isles Project and meets some of the people who have participated.
- "Genetic map of Britain goes on display". Press release from the University of Oxford, 3 July 2012 (includes a video clip)
- A genetic map of the peoples of the British Isles A pdf file of a presentation by Professor Sir Walter Bodmer given at the Galton Institute conference "Human genetic diversity" which was held on 14 November 2012 at The Royal Society, London.
- Migration projects A listing compiled by Jean Manco of academic research projects on aspects of human migration, mobility, transport, trade and related topics in Western Eurasia.
- Irish DNA Atlas Project launched. Thejournal.ie, 24 November 2011.
- Winney, B. J., Boumertit, A., Day, T., Davison, D., Echeta, C., Evseeva, I., et al. (2012). People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis of genotypes and surnames in a UK-control population. European journal of human genetics : EJHG, 20(2), 203–210. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.127
- Keeling, Judith (2013). "What makes the British?" in Oxford Today, Trinity Term 2013, Volume 25, Number 2, pp26-28.
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