Only the white coat of the professor and the glasses he wears make you believe that the person you're talking to is not a sportsman. Sport is one of his hobbies and Professor Ilia Mikerezi tries to "dribble" to the end his request to talk about his scientific research.
But he is persuaded and tells us about his long-standing work known in scientific circles thanks to dozens of publications in specialized magazines but unknown to the Albanian public.
The last week of March, Prof. Mikerezi was invited by the Institute of Political Studies to give a lecture in the auditorium "Eqrem Çabej".
A small group of "fanatics" of science and philosophy have followed the explanations of the professor who for the first time spoke of the results of his research outside the headquarters of the Faculty of Science in which he teaches.
Ilia Mikerezi is a geneticist specialized in one of the branches of this discipline, that of the study of genetic changes of populations. For the first time he made a study in this area also on Albania, one of the last countries in Europe not to have a map that testified to the genesis of its inhabitants, the ties and the differences with the other world populations.
The conversation with Prof. Mikerezi is difficult because his work is linked with dozens of scientific terms that do not correspond to others that are more understandable to a reader who is not an expert on the subject. His almost twenty-year researches, carried out with different methods, have led to results that are somewhat expected to confirm the thesis that the genetic resemblances of populations tend to extend along the main lines of their geographical contacts.
The study started with empirical methods and supplemented by the analysis of a sample of 200 individuals, genetically classifies the Albanians as "cousins" with the populations of the Anatolian and Middle Eastern area.
Notable resemblances meet with the Greek and Turkish populations and with some populations of Central and Eastern Europe, with the exception of the ends of the European continent. Furthermore, the Albanians are similar to the Germans, the French, the Austrians and the Italians, but do not resemble genetically British and Spanish.
Within the Albanian territory, another genetic map emerges that reconstructs the links and the differences between the regions.
The regions of Scutari, Peshkopi and Kukës appear to be more genetically isolated, but there are similarities between the inhabitants of the Tirane - Durres - Elbasan area and the Berat - Korçe area.
"In genetic studies they are not taken into consideration only a few centuries, geneticists study periods that go up to some tens of thousands of years ", says Prof. Mikerezi who claims that these studies are one of the most relevant methods in defining the genesis of man.
He says that nowadays it is widely known that the genesis of the human being began in Africa and then there was emigration to two main directions: Europe and Asia.
"Genetics proves that we are all very similar and belong to the same lineage. Differences between races and nationalities have appeared due to various factors including selection and natural conditions", Says the professor pointing out that the science to create the genetic map of the world population uses the genetic distance between the populations and the linguistic and cultural ones.
The study in Albania
"I started this work in the early nineties. Due to the very high costs of the genetic study, we initially used the method of comparing surnames. Before that, another study was done on blood groups and the frequency of their presence in the Albanian population.
We started by comparing the surnames and ten years later, samples were taken from 200 individuals from all over Albania, whose analysis led to the same results, "says Prof. Mikerezi.
On the populations with a tendency of genetic similarity between the Albanian regions, the results show that the regions of Scutari, Peshkopi and Kukes are more genetically isolated from each other, instead the inhabitants of the area of Tirana - Durazzo - Elbasan and of the Berat - Korçe area have more obvious similarities between them. In comparison with the peoples of the world, a genetic similarity is noted with the Anatolian and Middle Eastern area and with some regions of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Professor explains that a similar result was logical because the similarities are also conditioned by the linear geographical links: "The Albanians resemble Greeks and Turks but differ from the Slavic populations".
The samples taken in Albania were sent to Estonia, in one of the most modern European laboratories, and from their analysis it was proved that the Albanian population is rich in genetic profiles of the U and H type which are also typical profiles of European populations.
The importance of study
"These maps have an extraordinary cognitive value because they explain the history of the human being from its genesis. They demonstrate and testify that we all belong to a common stock, we all come from a single 'mother' who initially lived in Africa and subsequently emigrated all over the world. This makes us all a little cousins with each other, "says Prof. Mikerezi.
LAlbania was missing from the genetic map, but now, thanks also to the study of the professor, he will have the chance to answer the question: where do the Albanians come from and who do they look the most like.
Published in the Monthly Shqip n. 68, April 2008. Translated for Albania News by Alban Trungu
Follow Albania News on Google News