african bloodlines

Jennifer L. Caldwell is doctoral student at Howard University in the Department of Genetics and Human and graduate researcher in the W. Montague Cobb Research. For more information visit our About Page. 

*presentation below narratored by: Jennifer


Identifying Genetic and Bio-Cultural Associations amongst the Gullah Geechee and Affiliated Groups


By: 1Jennifer Caldwell, MPH

1Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Principal Investigator and Director

2Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, Executive Director 

1Howard University W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory

2Avery Research Center, College of Charleston  


Between the years 2012 and 2016, 557 African Americans (AA) per 100,000 African Americans, that were 35 years and older, died of cardiovascular disease (CVD). With a ratio of 100 individuals per 100, 000, AA lead all ethnicities in stroke mortality. Several environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors contribute to one’s risk for developing CVD. These rates are compounded by severe cardio-metabolic symptoms and lower SES within AA populations. Yet, little is known regarding the pathogenic mechanism of CVD and stroke related co-morbidities. By analyzing the genetic diversity and population substructure within AA populations, we will identify migration patterns and genetic alleles that contribute to CVD. This study posits Gullah Geechee (GG) as an ancestral group, to broader AA peoples, of formerly assimilated Africans located on the Coastal Sea Islands. Isolation caused their presumed genetically homogeneous gene pool, and thus they are more cohesive than other AA admixed populations. The Ethnogenetic Layering ( EL) framework will create a comprehensive analysis of African American micro-ethnic groups using: Whole Exome Sequencing, Bio-Cultural surveys to capture local levels of cultural patterns, and GIS to create 3D maps of disease patterns. We suggest that there is Bio-Cultural evidence and heritable genetic markers within this progenitor GG population that can establish evolutionary changes associated with risk for common multifactorial cardiovascular disease and stroke risk factors in African American descendent populations.

Slide Presentation