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Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza Dies

Geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, known for his work on human evolution, has died, The Scientist reports. He was 96.

Cavalli-Sforza, who trained as a physician and worked on bacterial genetics, became a professor at Stanford University in 1970 where he met and began to work with Marcus Feldman, an evolutionary biology, it adds. They explored the theory that human behavior can be attributed to a combination of genetic and cultural evolution.

"Luca was one of the first scientists to use genetic information to understand the relationships between different human populations at the level of the DNA," Feldman says in a statement.

Cavalli-Sforza also pushed for the Human Genome Diversity Project, Stanford adds. It notes that critics saw the project as exploitative biopiracy, but that Cavalli-Sforza saw it as a way to safeguard DNA from diverse populations. This project collected samples from more than 50 populations that are now stored Center for the Study of Human Polymorphisms.

"More than any other human geneticist, Cavalli-Sforza believed in the potential of genes and culture together to trace humanity’s origins," paleoanthropologist

John Hawks writes at Medium. "In the course of his work, he pioneered new ideas and models that brought together these two distinct areas of science."