About Us

The purpose of the African Bloodlines project is to investigate ancestral, bio-cultural, and genetic linkages of chronic disease amongst African Americans and African American micro-ethnic groups. By combining relevant historical, anthropological, and genomic based techniques we hope to create a comprehensive analysis, particularly of cardiovascular disease, in the precision medicine era. African Bloodlines is the colloquial name for "Identifying Genetic and Bio-Cultural Linkages to Cardiovascular disease amongst African Americans." 

 This study will also provide a unique genomic sample of more isolated and rarely studied African American populations. By observing and analyzing African American micro-ethnic groups and affiliated populations we will clarify genealogical mysteries, regarding the assimilation of African Americans and Non-African groups, which began centuries ago. This project involves a conglomerate of populations that we are excited to work with in order to produce this project. As our collaborations develop we will post each group in the research section. 

Our Team

As African American students at the illustrious Howard University, we understand the importance of uniting people within the African Diaspora. There are many facets in society that influence the lives of African Americans but it is time to be authentic authors of our own story. Our desire within this project is to become scientists, problem solvers, and story tellers for our people. As we represent many ethnicities and cultures, we want to use this platform to educate, investigate, enlighten and inspire others to think beyond themselves. We believe our research will serve as a comprehensive perspective regarding the lives of African descendants in North America and that it will provide strategies for researching more diverse populations to come. This project is sponsored by the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab under the direction of Dr. Fatimah Jackson, the Principal Investigator, and Jennifer Caldwell M.P.H., the Program Manager. 

Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Principal Investigator

Dr. Fatimah L.C. Jackson received her PhD, MA, and BA (cum laude with Distinction in all subjects) from Cornell University. She has conducted research on, and is particularly interested in the study of human-plant coevolution, particularly the influence of phytochemicals on human metabolic effects and evolutionary processes and in population substructure in peoples of African descent. She is recognized for developing ethnogenetic layering as a computational tool to identify human microethnic groups in complex heterogeneous populations and their differential expressions of health disparities. Trained as a human biologist, Dr. Jackson has published extensively in such journals as Human Biology, Biochemical Medicine and Metabolic Biology, the American Journal of Human Biology, andthe Journal of the National Medical Association, among others. Her research has been funded by USAID, the Ford Foundation, the Huber Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the NIH (NIMHD and NHGRI), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the EPA. She has been a Fulbright Senior Fellow. She won the Nick Norgan Award in 2009 for the Best Article Published inAnnals of Human Biology, and in 2012 was the first recipient of the Ernest E. Just Prize in Medical and Public Health Research, Avery Research Institute, College of Charleston and Medical University of South Carolina (University of South Carolina). In 2012, she was also Coined by Rear Admiral Dr. Helena Mishoe, National Institutes of Health, NHLBI and US Public Health Service. Dr. Jackson has taught widely, mentored a large number of students, and is now Director of the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory at Howard University, the largest collection of African American skeletal and dental remains in the world (covering 400 years of African American biological history). In 2017 Howard University named her STEM Woman Researcher of the Year and she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Department of Biology, where she is a professor.

Jennifer L. Caldwell, Project Manager

Jennifer L. Caldwell is doctoral student in the Department of Genetics and Human and graduate researcher in the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory.  She received two Bachelors of Science ( cum laude) in Chemistry and Physics from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 2011 and 2012 respectively; and is a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar. In 2014, she received a MPH, in Epidemiology, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences . Within the CRL, Jennifer’s research includes analyzing genetic and environmental interactions that influence CVD and Stroke in African American populations. By engaging in community based activities she characterizes these interactions through the lens of Bio-Cultural Anthropology. The goal of her research is to find evidence that characterizes Gullah Geechee, of the Coastal Sea Island, as a prototype micro-ethnic group of African Americans, due to their rich African heritage and isolation. Jennifer has specific interest in population genetics and epigenetic methods used for gene discovery and expansion of precision medicine research. A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, she loves all things southern, traveling, dance, and is a pseudo-chef.

Undergraduate Research Students

Names of the student researchers are listed in order from left to right: 

Madison Keller, Nasra Ahmed, JaKayla Folarin-Hines, Mark Herrera, Maya Mayfield, Alexandria Williams, Shemar Thompson, and Nina Brown