"It was all about the preservation of the skeletons," explained Prof Gabriele Scorrano, from the Lundbeck GeoGenetics centre in Copenhagen, who led the study. "It's the first thing we looked at, and it looked promising, so we decided to give [DNA extraction] a shot."
Both the remarkable preservation and the latest laboratory technology allowed the scientists to extract a great deal of information from a "really small amount of bone powder", as Prof Scorrano explained.
"New sequencing machines can [read] several whole genomes at the same time," he said.
The genetic study revealed that the man's skeleton contained DNA from tuberculosis-causing bacteria, suggesting he might have had the disease prior to his death. And a fragment of bone at the base of his skull contained enough intact DNA to work out his entire genetic code.
This showed that he shared "genetic markers" - or recognisable reference points in his genetic code - with other individuals who lived in Italy during the Roman Imperial age. But he also had a group of genes commonly found in those from the island of Sardinia, which suggested there might have been high levels of genetic diversity across the Italian Peninsula at the time.
Prof Scorrano said there would be much more to learn in biological studies of Pompeii - including from ancient environmental DNA, which could reveal more about biodiversity at the time.
"Pompeii is like a Roman island, " he added. "We have a picture of one day in 79AD."
Dr Viva added that every human body in Pompeii was "a treasure".
"These people are silent witnesses to one of the most well-known historical events in the world," she said. "To work with them is very emotional and a great privilege for me."
By Victoria Gill
Science correspondent, BBC News