Premier to open world-leading ancient DNA research unit

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

A new, world-leading research unit which traces genetic information from more than 100,000 years ago, will be officially opened by the SA Premier, Mike Rann, this Thursday, 24 August at the University of Adelaide.

The Australian Centre for Ancient DNA will train a new generation of Australian scientists, using revolutionary techniques to extract ancient genetic material from bones, plants and soils. The Centre will help answer some of the most important questions about environmental and evolutionary change in the southern hemisphere.

Professor Alan Cooper, who was recruited from the University of Oxford in 2005 to head up the Centre at the University of Adelaide, says the facility will put Australia on the international map for ancient DNA research.

"We will use ancient DNA to examine the environmental impacts of climate change and human migrations over the past 50,000 years," Professor Cooper says.

The Centre has just secured an international coup, signing a contract with the National Geographic Society to provide ancient DNA information for The Genographic Project. The project is a major international five-year study to measure male and female genetic markers from human populations around the world to reveal our collective history of evolution, migration and dispersal.

"This exciting project places the Centre at the forefront of international ancient DNA research and the results will revolutionise our understanding of human evolution and diversity," Professor Cooper says. "Ancient DNA allows us to determine exactly when and where ancient populations were at a given time."

The Centre will use ancient DNA to provide a detailed record of the impacts of past climate changes on animal and plant populations, to provide critical information about the likely impacts of current and future changes.

The Australian Centre for Ancient DNA will be officially opened by Premier Mike Rann at the Noel Lothian Hall, Plant Biodiversity Centre, Adelaide Botanic Garden on Thursday, 24 August at 10.30am.

For more details, visit


Contact Details

Professor Alan Cooper
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5950
Mobile: +61 406 383 884

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762