Central University of Punjab organized Webinar on Population Genomics and Public Health’

Bathinda: Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (CUPB) under the patronage of Vice Chancellor Prof. Raghavendra P. Tiwari organised a Webinar on “Population Genomics and Public Health”. On this occasion, Dr. Kumarswamy Thangraj, Director, Centre for Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad was the keynote speaker.

The programme commenced with the Welcome Address by Prof. Anjana Munshi, Dean Research, where she put a light on the topic of the webinar. While introducing the keynote speaker, she mentioned that Dr. Kumarswamy Thangraj is an acclaimed senior geneticist of India who is known for his contributions in the field of population and medical genetics.

In his keynote address, Dr. Kumarswamy Thangraj talked about how population genomics, the study of evolution of humans, and the genetics of modern human helps in understanding the human health. While putting a light on the evolution of human beings, he mentioned that earlier human species diverged from their homogenates like Chimpanzee about 7.5 Million Years Ago.(MYA). He also discussed different stages of evolution of human beings including Hominidae, Ardipithecus Ramidus, Australopithecus Afarensis, Homo Hebilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Sapiens and pointed out that during these stages the human brain has developed over a period of time and its size has increased as compared to the predecessors. He stated that Neanderthals were the early archaic human with larger brain size who emerged around 200 thousand years ago but they were replaced by early modern humans.

Dr. Kumarswamy Thangraj informed that several geological tools including the draught of Malwai Lake have indicated that modern humans originated in Africa and migrated to different parts of the world. He also shared that the recent studies have shown that enigmatic tribal populations of Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the first modern humans who migrated out of Africa through the Southern Coastal Route about 65,000 years ago.

He stated that India is a genetic hotspot and there are more than 4500 anthropologically well-defined population groups and genetic identity of different ethnic groups helps in identifying the health status of that population. He added that due to the practice of endogamy, the disease pattern is restricted to that particular population. Dr. Kumarswamy Thangraj asserted that IBD Scores (Identity by dissent scores) helps the researchers to find the level of identical DNA and know about their ancestors of several decades back. Further, the level of similarity of gene mutation pattern helps in identifying the health risk level of that ethnic group. During this webinar, various genetic diseases including mitochondrial diseases were discussed and it was suggested that a community genetic testing programme helps in identifying the health risk factor of a population.

Prof. R.K. Wusirika, Dean Incharge Academics, appreciated the keynote speaker for scholastic discourse. Towards the end, Dr. Sandeep Singh delivered the formal vote of thanks. This Webinar was attended by faculty and students of the university.