One of the newest and largest DNA organizations in the genealogy world is the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. The Foundation is building a correlated genetic and genealogical database. Last March, this non-profit announced the launch of the Molecular Genealogy Research Project, or MGRP. You can read more at http://www.smgf.org.
Scott R. Woodward, Ph.D., is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. Dr. Woodward is well known for his DNA work at Brigham Young University. He and his team have attended many genealogy conventions in the past few years, collecting DNA samples and pedigree charts.
You can read more about this huge DNA genealogy project in a prior EOGN newsletter article at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0409.htm#MGRP.
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is funded by Jim Sorenson, a Salt Lake City businessman. Mr. Sorenson keeps a low profile, but an article this week on the Sacramento Bee's Web site at http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/10454610p-11374060c.html provides a lot of information about this quiet multibillionaire with a modest heritage. This Salt Lake City businessman is rapidly becoming one of the most important people in genealogy.
James LeVoy Sorenson was a baby when his parents, Joseph and Emma, moved from Idaho to a tar-papered chicken coop in Yuba City, California, where Joseph dug sewer lines for a living. James Sorenson was an undiagnosed dyslexic, labeled "retarded" by his first-grade teacher. However, his mother refused to give up on him; with her help, he learned to read.
"I developed ways to compensate for my disability," Sorenson says. "I learned to look at things differently, to slow down and contemplate what was going on. The deficit became a plus."
Sorenson graduated from high school without any special honors and then spent one semester at what is now Sierra College in Rocklin, California. He dropped out to enter the business world although that career was interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Marines in World War II. After the war, Sorenson was a salesman for the Upjohn Company, selling drugs in the Salt Lake City area. He then went into the real estate business and made a fortune. Later still, he invented the first disposable surgical mask, plastic catheters, and a blood recycling system that retrieves, cleanses, and reinfuses a patient's own blood during surgery. Today he owns 32 different companies.
Like most people in his income category, Sorenson does not know exactly how much he is worth. His portfolio includes $2.5 billion in Abbott Laboratories stock, and his $1.4 billion in Utah land holdings is second only to the federal government. Yet those are only part of his financial portfolio. Sorenson's net worth is believed to be greater than that of Ted Turner ($2.4 billion), Donald Trump ($2.5 billion) or H. Ross Perot ($3.8 billion), according to Forbes magazine.
Sorenson lives a modest life style in Salt Lake City and, at age 83, still puts in more than 40 hours every week in his office. His new non-profit foundation now consumes much of his time. He hopes the foundation will help show that all people are related to each other in some way, a basic foundation that could help foster world peace. "This is my legacy to my heirs," he says, noting that he and his wife, Beverley, have two sons, six daughters, and more than 60 grandchildren. "I want to leave a better world for them."