Building a Genomic Reference Map of the Greek Population


     Greece has played a central role in influencing European genomic variation, serving as a gateway for migrations from the Levant and Anatolia, as well as a key refuge of Northern European populations during the last glacial maximum. However, to date, essentially nothing is known on the structure of the Hellenic population at a high resolution level, and existing European genomewide studies have overlooked this region. The structure and demographic history of the Greek population itself is very complex depicting a mosaic of historical events and including Greek sub-groups that maintain distinct traditions and private dialects. This rich history must have contributed to substantial heterogeneity, which remains until now unexplored and will become the focus of this study.

     Leading an international and multi-disciplinary team of experts, including geneticists and computer scientists Dr. Paschou will coordinate the creation of a detailed genomic reference map of Greek sub-populations. Analyzing genomewide data, we will investigate fine-scale sub-structure within Greece and reconstruct the complex history of the Hellenic diaspora. Our carefully designed population study, aiming to explore possible group heterogeneity by geography and self-reported ancestry, will help document and preserve the history of self-defined Hellenic sub-groups, that are culturally and linguistically unique, but are being lost due to panmixia and population movements. Finally, our results will have paramount importance for understanding the history of human migrations into Europe, while the biobank that we will create will prove an invaluable resource for the study of complex human disorders in Greece with a potential major impact on public health.