Druze Genome Perseveres

15/2/2015
Recent research findings confirm that the Druze genome has closely preserved its original form since the 11th Century
Prof. Jamal Zidan, Head of Ziv Medical Center's Oncology Department, Prof. Eitan Friedman from the Tel Aviv University and Sheba Hospital, Prof. Gil Atzmon from the University of Haifa, collaborated in contributing to a recently published research on the Druze Genome. The researchers were joined by Dr. Dan Ben-Avraham from the Department of Medicine and Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY, Dr. Shai Carmi from the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University, NY and Dr. Taiseer Maray from the Galilee Development Company, Golan Heights.

The research findings, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, confirm that the Druze consolidated their ethnic identity in the 11th Century and from that time until today, there have been virtually no genetic influences from other ethnic groups. This finding is in line with the traditional belief held by the Druze community regarding their origin as a religious sect during the rule of the sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt.
Today there are approximately 1.5 million Druze worldwide, most of whom live in Syria and Lebanon and the remainder in Israel and Jordan. Druze tradition extols marriage within the Druze community, explaining the lack of external genetic influence.

The study encompassed one hundred and twenty participants from 40 families. Twenty families were from the village Beit Jann in the Galilee and twenty families were from the village Madj al Shams in the Golan Heights. The genetic samples were taken in Israel and sent to the Albert Einstein College for testing.

Prof. Jamal Zidan
stated that the research findings help to better understand the genome of the Druze community. Future studies will be designed to identify hereditary diseases in the Druze community with the aim of establishing preventative treatment for such diseases. The researchers plan to conduct similar studies on additional ethnic/religious groups in Israel including the Christian and Moslem Arab communities.