Memorial Lecture - Viking Genes, Jim Wilson

The Shetland Museum and Archives will be presenting their annual memorial lecture next week entitled ‘Viking Genes’ by visiting lecturer Professor Jim Wilson of the University of Edinburgh. The lecture this year will be dedicated to the late Walter Scott, Shetland’s great botanist.

Shetland is famed for its Viking ancestry and a recent Edinburgh University research project shows that 20 per cent of isles DNA is now traceable to Norwegian ancestors. Professor Wilson will present this latest research, the intriguing findings, and where he hopes the research will take him next.

Of Fair Isle heritage, Jim grew up in Orkney where he attended the Kirkwall Grammar School, before reading genetics at the University of Edinburgh. After a year working in Bavaria, he went up to New College in Oxford where he completed a DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) in human population genetics. Jim moved back to Edinburgh in 2003 to take up a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

Jim has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles. Over the last decade he led two large genetic epidemiology studies in Orkney and Shetland. These platform resources for health research have contributed to the discovery of over 1000 novel associations between genes and diseases or their risk factors.

More recently he has initiated a number of international consortia to explore interests in the genetics of complex traits. Jim is engaged in science communication principally through radio and TV series explaining genetics to the public - most recently Ant & Dec's DNA Journey.

In his lecture, which is entitled ‘Viking Genes’, Jim will present some of the latest findings from the Orkney Complex Disease Study and the Viking Health Study - Shetland. These span the range from new insights into the genetic relationships between populations in the Northern Isles and elsewhere, through detailed assessment of the genetic uniqueness of Shetlanders to applications in health - including heart arrhythmias, lifespan, variation in the blood vessels in the back of the eye and the effects of inbreeding.

Jim will also describe his new study, VIKING II, which seeks to recruit thousands more volunteers with ancestry from Orkney or Shetland.

The Memorial Lecture ‘Viking Genes’ by Professor Jim Wilson will take place at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday 16th January from 7pm to 9pm. Tickets cost £5 and should be booked in advance - book here.

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