CRL Digitization Team publishes first report on 4Cs Database in American Journal of Human Biology

What could you do with 400 years of biological history on African Americans? The CRL digitization team of Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Dr. Latifa Jackson, Research Associate Christopher Cross, and Research Assistant Cameron Clarke have just received word that their manuscript will be published in the leading journalthe American Journal of Human Biology this winter. The goal of the paper is to evaluate the potential scientific benefit of systematic studies of dental and skeletal materials on African Americans from the 17th through 20th centuries. In this publication they ask: How important is it to be able to reconstruct the lives of a highly diverse, historically recent macroethnic group over the course of 400 years? How many insights into human evolutionary biology and disease susceptibilities could be gained, even with this relatively recent window into the past? In the paper, they explore the potential ramifications of a newly constructed dataset of Four Centuries of African American Biological Variation (4Cs). Their research provides initial lists of digitized variables formatted as SQL tables for the 17th and 18th century samples and for the 19th and 20th century samples. The database is dynamic and new information is added monthly. As is, the database provides novel opportunities for significant insights into the past biological history of this group and three case study applications are detailed for comparative computational systems biology studies of: 1) hypertension, 2) the oral microbiome, and 3) mental health disorders. These are all research projects currently “in progress” at the CRL.  The 4Cs dataset is ideal for interdisciplinary “next generation” science research and these data represent a unique step toward the accumulation of historically contextualized Big Data on an underrepresented group known to have experienced differential survival over time. Congratulations to the team for this accomplishment!***

Nicholas Guthrie