Iranian Genome Project

Iranian Genome Project

The Iranian Genome Project is uncovering the genetic tradition of the Iranian people and believes in the importance of the Zoroastrian population in history and future medical applications.

The Iranian Genome Project was started in 2011 at Stanford University between Professor Russ Altman who is the Chair of Bioengineering and Mostafa Ronaghi who is the CTO of Illumina. The project has substantial financially backing and world-class leadership. Under some of the most respected and internationally celebrated scientists in the field of genetics, genomic sequencing, and personalized medicine, we are studying the similarities and differences at the genetic level between different Iranian groups for two reasons:

1. To understand the historical evolution of cultures and people in Iran from a scientific angle using genetics, something that has never been done before.

2. To study genetic variations specific to the Iranian population and its different ethnic groups that are conductive to disease. This has profound applications in personalized medicine in years to come when drugs are being developed that are tailored to genetic information of populations and people. It is essential that Iranians and Iranian Americans of all ethnic/cultural backgrounds are included in this movement and are not excluded from the benefits.

More information about the project itself and other researchers involved, including Harvard University professor of systems biology Pardis Sabeti can be found on our website –


We have spent the past few months surveying a high number of Iranians from different ethnic groups before screening qualified individuals for a free, confidential sequencing of their genome and inclusion in the study. The goal is to make sure all different types of Iranian people and groups are represented fairly. Those who are confident about their ethnic origin on the short survey will be contacted with more information.

Unfortunately, we have very little Zoroastrians represented and are deeply concerned. It is imperative to the team at Stanford University that all groups are fairly represented and that the benefits of the project can be shared equally by everyone.

If you are Zoroastrian of Iranian Descent please take the survey at the secure link below so your community can be fairly represented in the study and have access to the rewards of the research being conducted at Stanford University.

Stanford University – Iranian Genome Project

Survey Responses Needed from Zoroastrians of Iranian Descent. Please distribute and take the short survey found below at the Stanford Medicine URL.
If you have any questions please call Nima Ahmadi at 858 774 6305.

Courtesy : Firdosh Tolat


  • Hope all Parsis participate.

  • Sorry for putting the cart before the horse. Thanks .

  • A Post Script – to the Parsis.
    In reference to the tragicomic BBC article ‘Zoroastrians Search for their Roots’ by Zubair Ahmed [19 July 2005] The following excerpt from Mr. Jehangir S. Pocha’s article ‘The Vanishing Breed’ makes this ‘urge to connect with their Persian past’ by the Parsis –however tenuous– comically understandable.
    Excerpt from: ‘The Vanishing Breed’ by Jehangir S. Pocha. 10 Oct 2004.
    “……… Many modern Parsis are increasingly pushing for change, but conservatives such as Mistree say their ‘over-westernisation & over-secularisation is killing our Parsipanu’ [i.e. Parsi way of life]. This finds resonance with many Parsis who believe the best way to secure their community’s future is to hold fast to the past. For example, more and more Parsis, myself included, have begun visiting Iran in an attempt to reinvigorate their affinities with Zoroastrian Persia’s Grand Past. This has given rise to what I call the ‘Über-Parsi’. . . . . Über-Parsis cruise public libraries and surf the Web to excavate obscure facts and reacquaint the world with the ancient Achaemenian, Parthian and Sassanian – Persian dynasties – which were the cultural and military superpowers of their times, eventually outlasting their rivals, the Greeks and the Romans. Über-Parsis are easily made, for Parsis are not defined by how small they are in number, but by how great they are in mind. But curating history can only go so far in energising a community. In many homes the attempt to cull present meaning from Persian history descends into farce. These are homes where glossy picture-books on ancient Persia lie strategically on coffee tables, a silver bookmark from Tiffany’s thrust carelessly between pages never opened. If at all the books are read, it is to satisfy the thirst for that latest trend of Parsi parents – the quest for a ‘different’ name with which to name sons and daughters. Names like Artaxerxes, Sohrushmani and Cambyses, bludgeon friends with their ancient authenticity and reassure parents that their children will always be regarded as ‘special’ and they, as refined Parsis.”

    In my opinion, the truly tragic part of the BBC’s reported article and above excerpt, is that after more than one thousand two hundred years of residing in a relatively safe and stable environment in India, we still have some in the community that consider themselves as being of pure Persian/Iranian origin. …….. How tragic indeed, when I hear some Parsis wistfully state that one group of Zoroastrians fled to Europe instead of India, and claim that the picture of a white robed, bearded old man, holding a small fire urn in his hand, is indeed proof of this; an European representation of a ‘German Zarathushtra.’ . . . . In reality, it’s a post exile picture of the Jewish Prophet Isaiah.
    It is high time we Parsis give our venerable ancestors credit for their wise choice of destination for the safe future of the community and religion; that could survive only in a country which practiced the principle of ‘freedom from religious persecution’ over a thousand years ago. . . . . . . . The only country, INDIA!
    As soon as we Parsis accept the fact that the century of Parsi Prominence and Prosperity (c.1860-1960) on the Indian subcontinent has passed; and that as proud Indian Nationals, we should be more in tune with what our forefathers achieved in India –instead of for ever talking about the ancient Achaemenian, Parthian and Sassanian dynasties, as our source of pride– we will soon grow out of this malaise.
    Now about the claims –made by those interviewed in afore referenced BBC article– of ‘genetic memory’ as the reason for this ‘urge-to-search & connect’ by the Parsis for their roots. . . . Their ‘genetic roots’ theory seems to go back, only between circa 600BCE to 600CE. . . . . Now my genetic memory goes back to our Prophet’s time of c.6,000BCE. . . . . . . So in-fact, my Yatra is going to take me to the present day countries of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; area known as ‘Arya-na Vaeja’ in the Vendidad, wherein our Prophet ‘Walked-the-Talk’ and converted King Vishtasp into the Faith. . . . . . If and when I do return, with Head-&-Hide intact! . . . . . I shall regale one-and-all, with stories of this journey of the search for my antiquated roots. . . . . But as of now, after ‘twelve centuries’ of Parsi ancestral history at hand; I proudly proclaim, that my Zoroastrian genetic roots, ancestral home and country of origin, is indeed – INDIA ! E. J. Kanga.Dec’05

  • FYI – A Celebration of Human Genetic Diversity over Millennium.*
    A child is born [1] Today.
    Its parents 2
    G. Parents 4
    G.G’Parents 8
    G.G.G’Parents 16 100yrs.ago.
    And so on, at the rate of (x2) for every new generation born . . . . . up to 1,000yrs. ago.
    Ancestors — 1,099,511,627,776 — 1000yrs ago.
    *Hence, in a thousand years, every living person on the planet inherits genetic diversity of 1 Trillion + Ancestors.
    Basis a new Generation every 20yrs. – This same ancestral genetic diversity would be reached in 820years.
    So, purity of race or ethnicity is a myth, perpetuated by the small minds and inflated egos of many in our midst.
    Do the math! E. Kanga.

  • Re: The 2011 Iranian Genome Project at Stanford University.

    Which states its purpose as: (Quote) ‘The Iranian Genome Project is (for) uncovering the genetic tradition of the Iranian people and believes in the importance of the Zoroastrian population in history and future medical applications’.
    1. ‘To understand the historical evolution of cultures and people in Iran from a scientific angle using genetics, something that has never been done before’.
    2. ‘To study genetic variations specific to the Iranian population and its different ethnic groups that are conductive to disease. This has profound applications in personalized medicine in years to come when drugs are being developed that are tailored to genetic information of populations and people. It is essential that Iranians and Iranian Americans of all ethnic/cultural backgrounds are included in this movement and are not excluded from the benefits’. (End of quote)

    Iran – a country at the ‘Crossroads of Civilisation’
    The present-day country called Iran, implying a land of the Aryans, (Greeks in 5th century BCE – called it Perses) is located at the cross-roads of ancient civilisations. The ethnicity of its people today is an admixture of the Tur-Mongol clans of the Turanian planes and the gene-pool of conquering tribes/clans, moving from east to west & visa-a-versa, through this land; following the ancient laws of conquest – i.e., kill, conquer, pillage, burn & rape.
    The Macedonian/Greeks under Alexander, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan & his Mongol hordes etal, finally the Arabs in the 7th – 8th century CE. All conquered, vanquished, plundered and populated this land.
    So the question arises, who or what is a Zoroastrian Iranian genetically? How will the genome project differentiate between the various gene admixtures? How is it possible to identify the genes of an Iranian Zoroastrian who may have various blood types from another; say a Parsi after twelve centuries in India, who may have quite a different genetic identity? After all, Zoroastrianism is a religious philosophy/faith of a people, genetics not withstanding, through millennia.

    The land called Parsu – in ancient times.
    According to the Vedas (Rig-Veda 10-62-1 & 10-108-4) the territorial area of geopolitical influence of the ancient families of Eastern Aryas (Irano-Indo Aryas) extended from the Asian steppes north of the river Syr Darya, through the Turanian Plain, (historical ‘Aryana Vaeja’) then along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, then along the southern Black Sea regions into Anatolia.
    The three ‘Major Clans’ that comprised of the Eastern Arya people of the historical ‘Aryana Vaeja’; were the Medes, the Parsu (or Pārsa) and the Parthenians … they were called the ‘United Triad’ and they lived in harmony. (Rig-Veda 10-108-1) Of the three, Parsu Clan was the most important; they gave their name to the whole country. The Rig-Veda also records the many Arya Kings of the ‘United Triad’ that ruled over these lands and influenced its people in ancient times, with the culture, philosophies and religious beliefs of the Eastern Aryas.

    Etymology of Persia
    The Greeks began in the fifth century B.C. to use adjectives such as Perses, Persica or Persis for Cyrus the Great’s empire. Such words were taken from the Old Persian Pārsa – the name of the people whom Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty first ruled and of whom he was one (before he inherited or conquered other Persian Kingdoms). His tribe gave its name to the region where they lived. In Latin, his empire was called Persia. Hence, Iran was formerly known internationally as Persia.

    Iran or Persia – A naming dispute.
    The country has been a subject of a naming dispute since name Iran has come into common Western usage. The two possible names for this country are Iran and Persia; their adjectives being Iranian and Persian, respectively.
    Both ērān and aryān comes from the Proto-Iranian term Aryānām, attested in Zoroastriani Avesta tradition as the land of the (Iranian) Aryas. The word and concept of Airyanem Vaejah is present in the name of the country Iran (Lit. Land of the Aryans) in-as-much as, Iran (Ērān) is the modern Persian form of the word Aryānā.
    In the outside world, the official name of Iran from 6th century BCE until 1935CE was Persia or similar names. In 1935CE Reza Shah Pahlavi asked the international community to call his country by the name ‘Iran’ thereby differentiating his nation & people from the nations of Arabia, even though Islam was the common faith practiced in the middle-eastern region by all the different group/people.

    Next topic
    Is the expression ‘Caucasian’ – a racial misnomer? (to follow next week)

    Sent by E. Kanga.

  • Is the expression ‘Caucasian’ – a racial misnomer?
    This post is to explore the ‘Parsi Passion’ to classify themselves as ‘Caucasians’

    History of the concept of a ‘Caucasian race’ was first proposed under that name by a German. –Dr. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840). His studies based on the classification of the ‘Caucasian race’ primarily on skull features, which Blumenbach claimed were optimized by the Georgians, a people living in the Southern Caucasus where he had spent a considerable period recouping from an illness, and considered the type and hospitality of the people of the region as epitomizing the Europeans.

    The other reason the Caucasus had such an attraction to Blumenbach and his other contemporaries, was because of its proximity to Mount Ararat, where according to Biblical legend Noah’s*[1] Ark eventually landed after the Deluge. This is clearly unscientific as it is based on legend. But Blumenbach believed that the original humans were light-skinned, that the Caucasians had retained this whiteness as a constant, and that darkness of skin was a sign of change from the original. The tribe of Japheth was supposed to have originated in the Caucasus, and then spread north-westwards and populated the sub-continent of Europe.**[2]

    Later anthropologists, including William Z. Ripley in 1899 and Carleton Coon in 1957, further expanded upon the classification of the Caucasian race proposed by Blumenbach, and subdivided the group into Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, and at times Dinaric and Baltic subdivisions. Nordic-ism, the belief that the blond Nordic sub-division constitutes a ‘master race’, was influential in Northern Europe and the United States during the early twentieth century, eventually becoming the official ideology of the Nazi state. It was used to justify eugenics programs and the persecution and extermination of so-called ‘inferior’ races then living in Europe, such as Jews and Roma.

    The concept of Caucasian race and its stated or implied superiority over other races was often used as a moral excuse for colonialism by Western Europeans countries, in the 19th and 20th centuries. In Europe, usage of the term declined in the 19th century as it did not allow for enough distinctions as required by the new forms of nationalism which were emerging, but in the United States it enjoyed a use which continues to the present. It has been (and still is) used to justify social discrimination in many other places of the world, such as against descendants of Native Americans, African slaves, and immigrants in the Americas and South Africa, non-Anglo-Saxon Australians and many more.

    As an alternate term, it is currently often used in the U.S.A. as a more ‘scientific sounding’ and safer/alternate classification for ‘white’ then of the use of the term ‘Aryan’, and is even used by many anthropologists and geneticists to refer generically to people of European origin.

    Blumenbach’s five races: On the basis of his craniometrical research (i.e., analysis of human skulls), Blumenbach divided the human species into five races: -Caucasian (or white race); -Mongolian (or yellow race); -Malayan (or brown race); -American (or red race); -Negroid (or black race).

    His classification of Mongolian race included all East Asians and some Central Asians. Blumenbach excluded peoples of Southeast Asian islands and Pacific Islanders from his definition, as he considered them to be part of the Malay race. American Indians were considered to be part of the American (indigenous peoples) race. He did not think they were inferior to the Caucasian race, and were potentially good members of society. He included peoples of most of Africa in the Negroid or black race.

    Blumenbach argued that physical characteristics like skin colour, cranial profile, etc., were correlated with group character and aptitude. He interpreted craniometry and phrenology to make physical appearance correspond with racial categories.
    – Caucasian: The fairness and relatively high brows of Caucasians were held to be apt physical expressions of a loftier mentality and a more generous spirit.
    – Mongolian: The epicanthic folds around the eyes of Mongolians and their slightly sallow outer epidermal layer bespoke their supposedly crafty, literal-minded nature.
    – Negroid: The dark skin and relatively sloping craniums were taken as wholesale proof of a closer genetic proximity to the monkeys;^[3] – despite the fact that the skin of chimpanzees and gorillas beneath the hair is whiter than the average Caucasian skin, that orang-utans and some monkey species have foreheads fully as vertical as the typical Englishman or German.

    Later in life, Blumenbach encountered in Switzerland –eine zum Verlieben schönen Négress– (a Negro woman so beautiful to fall in love with.) Further anatomical study led him to the conclusion that ‘individual Africans differ as much, or even more, from other individual Africans as Europeans differ from Europeans’. Furthermore, he concluded that Africans were not inferior to the rest of mankind ‘concerning healthy faculties of understanding, excellent natural talents and mental capacities’. These later ideas were far less influential than his earlier assertions with regard to the perceived relative qualities of the different races.

    Blumenbach’s early ideas were adopted by other researchers and encouraged scientific racism. His work was used by many biologists and comparative anatomists in the nineteenth century who were interested in the origin of races: Wells, Lawrence, Prichard, Huxley and William Flower are good examples of his influence on human biology.

    Current views however, have changed, and large numbers of people do not wish to identify themselves as a particular race. Relatively recent advances in biochemistry have revealed that racial genetic divisions are much smaller than had been previously thought. In places such as Europe, racial censuses are highly controversial and in some cases not used.[2]a –Some have argued that due to the civil-rights and political-correctness movements, many white people feel a certain guilt or shame when acknowledging their race in a positive manner, while others have dismissed such arguments as racist.

    Relevance of the term Caucasian to cultural identity and socio-economic patterns is still being debated in the scientific and cultural groups of America. Within strict anthropological discourse the term can be used safely in identifying a very large group of people who present certain general physical characteristics. They may be very dark skinned south Indians; olive-skin people of the Middle East or Mediterranean region and fair-skinned, light-haired natives of Northern Europe and nothing more. . Those who prefer to wrongly use the term as a ‘racial classification’ should then consider the fact, that India has the largest number of Caucasian type, of any single country in the world today.

    Ethno-Linguistic Groups that reside in the Caucasus region today. (N.Y.Time – 19 Sept. 2004)

    -1. Abkhaz.
    -2. Adygey.
    -3. Agul.
    -4. Armenian.
    -5. Avar.
    -6. Azeri.
    -7. Balkar.
    -8. Chechen.
    -10. Dargin.

    -11. Georgian.
    -12. Greek.
    -13. Ingush.
    -14. Lak.
    -15. Lezgin.
    -16. Nogay.
    -17. Ossetian.
    -18. Kabardin.
    -19. Kalmyk.

    -20. Karachay.
    -21. Kumyk.
    -22. Kurd.
    -23. Rutul.
    -24. Tabasaran.
    -25. Talysh.
    -26. Tsakhur.
    -27. Turkmen.
    -28. Bzyd. -29. Svan.
    -30. TsovaTush.
    -31. Ubykh. & -32. Udi.

    N.B. None of these languages are Sanskrit dialects. Hence, to say that Aryans came from the Caucasus eastward to Iran and India in ancient times, is a false theory. See my paper ‘People of the Gatha & the Gita’ in this matter. #[4]

    *[1] [Noah –Noe, Noach; Hebrew: was, according to the Jewish Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. His story is contained in the book of Genesis, chapters 5-9.]

    **[2] Which implies that all of Europe is populated by the children of Japheth, the progeny of a Hebrew Patriarch? A totally ridicules concept and farthest from the facts, about the origins and ‘East to West’ migratory pattern over millennia of, ancient eastern tribes across the steppes of central Asia – i.e.,Celts, Scythians, Slavs, Magyar, Allan, Khazar, Hun, Mongol, etal. . . . [Not necessarily in that order of migration]
    **[2]a According to Eileen Hickey, geneticist at the University of Oxford and her colleagues, who used mito-chondrial DNA (mtDNA) to sort out & find, when and how the an¬cestors of modern Europeans first populated the continent. (They found that) . . . only about 10 percent of Europeans can trace their mitochon¬drial ancestry to the origi¬nal colonization of Europe by modern humans some 50,000 years ago. The most recent groups (~90%) came out of the Levant about 8,000 years ago, following paths through cen¬tral Europe and along the coast of the Medi¬terranean up to Britain. . . . .

    ^[3] Dr. Johann Blumenbach was voicing the bias & bigotry of his period in history and unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to meet the likes of – Obama, Oprah, Rice, Tutu, Mandela, Annan, etal – during his life time; or he would have had a different opinion about the inherent intelligence and abilities of the black race.

    #[4] Parsis don’t speak any of these, nor any variant-dialects of these 30+ languages. Their mother-tongue is Gujarati which is a Sanskrit dialect of India; but they still claim ‘Caucasian’ as their ethnicity, instead of South Asian. i.e., INDIAN . . . I have often wondered, how & why? (E. Kanga)
    N.B. All above data excerpted from Wiki and other sources on the subject – except End Note #[4]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.