Jefferson DNA tester Eugene Foster dies

July 26, 2008 at 10:43 AM
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, N.C., July 26 (UPI) -- Dr. Eugene A. Foster, a pathologist who used DNA testing to show Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child with slave Sally Hemings, has died in Virginia.

He was 81.

Foster died Monday at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville after a battle with prostate cancer and leukemia, the New York Times reported.

Nearly two centuries of gossip speculated that a relationship between Jefferson, the third president of the United States, and Hemings had resulted in the birth of at least one child. Foster and historian Winifred Bennett embarked on a mission in 1996 to use DNA testing to trace a possible link, the newspaper said.

Foster used a new genetic technique of tracing ancestry through the Y chromosome, which descends through the male line. He found that the Y chromosome of a descendant of Hemings' son, Eston, matched that of Jefferson's lineage.

The findings were published in 1998 in the journal Nature.

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