Paleogenomics Laboratory to to be established at the European University at St. Petersburg

Press release

The European University at St. Petersburg, together with the State Hermitage Museum, the Genotek Medical Genetic Center and the Grotex (Solopharm) company, are creating the Paleogenomics Laboratory. It will be part of the new International School of Arts and Cultural Heritage.

SAINT PETERSBURG — November 12, 2021

The Paleogenomics Laboratory will work with the archaeological collections that have accumulated in the Hermitage over many decades, using the results of DNA analysis in order to fill gaps in knowledge of ancient history and pose new questions. As part of a pilot project in the Genotek laboratory, the genomes of people from the 6th century Oglakhtyn burial in Khakassia will be decoded. In the future, an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, historians and geneticists plans to study Scythian and post-Scythian cultures.

The long-term goal of the project is the development of full-cycle paleogenomics in Russia: from the posing of scientific questions to the selection of source material, then to genetic analysis and interpretation of the results, and, finally, to scholarly publications.

In addition to scholarly work, the Paleogenomics Laboratory will be included in the process of training museum workers and curators to be able to use the capabilities of science and technology, in particular genetics, to enrich expositions and study the Russian cultural heritage stored in museums. The curriculum of the new International School of the Arts will include courses and projects related to the acquisition and use of genomic data, incorporating the possibilities offered by modern genetics.

The Paleogenomics Laboratory is an interdisciplinary project in which a world-class museum, leading biotech companies and a modern research university have combined their capabilities. The experience and laboratory facilities of the Genotek Medical Genetic Center make it possible to start research immediately. As another laboratory for working with ancient DNA is equipped at the European University with the support of Grotex, the research and educational program can be expanded. As part of this program, the Hermitage will receive new knowledge about its collections as well as ideas for the development of its collection.

Earlier, the European University at St. Petersburg announced the creation of a new International School of Arts and Cultural Heritage (ISA) in partnership with the State Hermitage. ISA will provide not only fundamental knowledge in the field of art history, museum management and curatorship, but also teach information technology, allow students to work in a new technological environment, and develop skills for interaction with representatives of other fields.


Liya Chechik, Director of the School of Arts and Cultural Heritage