PEOPLE with at least two grandparents from the Traveller community are being asked to take part in a new genetic study.

The research will provide a unique opportunity to understand how Scottish Travellers relate to Irish Travellers, English Gypsies and Welsh Kale, as well as their settled neighbours.

Some 400 people are being invited to join the study, which will also shed light on any genetic risk factors for health.

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Representatives of the community asked researchers at Edinburgh University to carry out the study, as there has been no genetic research involving Scottish Travellers.

The study will build upon previous work by the Edinburgh team with the Irish Traveller community, which helped them gain official recognition as a distinct ethnic minority.


Participants will complete an online questionnaire about their health and lifestyle. They will also be asked to return a saliva sample by post, which will be used for DNA analysis.

Lead researcher, Professor Jim Wilson, said: “Scottish Traveller groups have never been involved in studies using the power of modern genetics.

“I was delighted to be asked by representatives of this community to carry out a study that will reveal how the Traveller communities fit into the genetic landscape of Scotland and the British Isles.”

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Samantha Donaldson, a Scottish Traveller from Dunfermline and member of the study’s public involvement panel, said the findings could be useful in proving or disproving origin myths about the Travellers.

She added: “Travellers have some of the greatest health inequalities in Scotland. If we are genetically predisposed to certain conditions more than other groups, or if we have illnesses that are more likely to affect us, then health professionals may be able to use data to address some of these inequalities.”