Opinion | Kalaignar’s Contribution To The Body Politic Of Tamil Nadu And India Is Unquestionable

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Potentially just as fascinating is the fact that DNA is not merely linked together by unchanging chemical chains; it evolves. Our DNA holds on to the past, learns from it and advances from one generation to the next. If we trace human DNA back thousands of years, we are able to identify common ancestors. This is why you can identify the particular paths followed by the women or men of your heritage based on your “haplogroup,” or the families of lineages that descend from a common ancestor. If we trace our genetic heritage back millions of years, we can use DNA to identify primate ancestors. Move back even farther — billions of years — and our DNA makes it possible for us to identify the origins of life on earth. Effectively, DNA is like a code book that contains the story of our entire genetic history, demonstrating how connected we are both to each other and to other forms of life on earth.

I am passionate about deciphering the code and understanding exactly how those four letters, having evolved over millions of years, are able to account for our similarity and also our spectacular diversity. It is incredibly exciting to study life’s blueprint during a time when it is within our grasp to understand what it really means.

We must also recognize, however, that humans differ from all other living creatures in a fundamental way: Humans have the ability to imagine, innovate and create. This ability has allowed us to pioneer in extraordinary ways, but it has also led to impacts on the rest of our global community.

So what makes us human? Although there is a clear scientific definition of the human species, our chemical foundations are no different than earth’s other organisms. Rather than fixating on the differences, I focus on the similarities. Ultimately though, humans are differentiated from the rest of life on earth by our ability to think and advance. As we pioneer we have a responsibility — a moral imperative — to not only understand the effect we are having on this world but also to step up and own that responsibility. I like to think that is what makes me human.

Anne Wojcicki is a co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/opinion/genetic-roots-of-humans.html

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