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Embark CSO Explains Genetic Diversity


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Genetic diversity refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a certain species. Embark cofounder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Adam Boyko explains genetic diversity and how it affects dogs in the following video. Dr. Boyko has traveled to every inhabitable continent to study dogs and is a professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Purebred dogs have been bred into hundreds of different varieties. Dogs throughout history have been bred for different tasks but only recently have we put these dogs in closed breeding populations for pedigree breeding,” Dr. Boyko said. “All pedigree dogs descend from a small set of individual founders for that breed and therefore they have limited genetic diversity compared to village dogs and other sorts of natural populations of dogs. Although this limited genetic diversity is necessary to keep purebred dogs breeding pure, too much loss of diversity can be very dangerous.”


Here at Embark, we care about and support responsible breeding. Our goal is to create the best genetic test for dogs, so that breeders can maintain diversity in purebred populations and keep them healthy for generations to come. An Embark Dog DNA Test enables you to learn about your dog’s breed, ancestry, health, coefficient of inbreeding, and more, all from a simple cheek swab. With a research-grade DNA genotyping platform, we look at over 350 breeds and 250+ genetic health risks. We also provide a family tree that goes back three generations, have veterinary geneticists on staff to answer customer questions, and are partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Our mission is to end preventable disease in dogs by making scientific discoveries through genetic research. In fact, Embark scientists made the first discovery in non-human direct to consumer genomics, which was covered by National Geographic and other publications.


Are you a breeder? If you have any additional questions about genetic diversity, email us at Thanks for Embarking with us!

Adam Boyko, PhD Scientist

Dr. Adam Boyko is a cofounder of Embark and an associate professor in Biomedical Sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Boyko has coauthored over 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Morris Animal Foundation. He received an MS in Computer Science and a PhD in Biology from Purdue University before his postdoctoral work at Cornell and Stanford.

Read more about Adam Boyko, PhD

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