The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) has just launched a new newsletter. The first edition, March 2008, is available here. This edition discusses GINA, a DNA Success Story by Shoshone, a segment called “The Armchair Geneticist: Where Hobby Produces Science”, What’s New in ISOGG, and a Featured DNA Project.
The newsletter is well-written and has some great graphics, so be sure to subscribe to this FREE newsletter (see the bottom of the newsletter for subscription information).
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish DNA, here is picture of one of the many beautiful places I visited on my trip to Ireland – Slea Head, the tip of the Dingle peninsula, as a storm rolls in (2004):
If you’re interested in DNA, Native American History, or genetic genealogy, then you’re undoubtedly heard of a new paper from PLoS ONE called “The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American mtDNA Haplogroups: Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Studies.” The authors, from all around the world (including Ugo A. Perego from SMGF and Antonio Torroni from Italy) analyze over 100 complete Native America mtDNA genomes. From the abstract:
“In this study, a comprehensive overview of all available complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes of the four pan-American haplogroups A2, B2, C1, and D1 is provided by revising the information scattered throughout GenBank and the literature, and adding 14 novel mtDNA sequences. The phylogenies of haplogroups A2, B2, C1, and D1 reveal a large number of sub-haplogroups but suggest that the ancestral Beringian population(s) contributed only six (successful) founder haplotypes to these haplogroups.”
MSNBC has a very short article entitled "DNA Testing: Would You Do It?" Last Friday, Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki – co-founders of 23andMe – were interviewed by NBC News Correspondent Peter Alexander and Today show host Ann Curry to discuss the company. The 7.5 minute video is below:
As of Monday the 17th of March, David Paterson will be the Governor of New York State. Lt. Gov. Paterson recently sat down with Susan Arbetter of WHMT’s NYNOW to discuss the results of his genetic genealogy test results. Paterson is probably the first governor in the United States to have undergone genetic genealogy testing, and might be the highest government official to do so and then speak openly about it. These videos are very enjoyable, and it’s interesting to learn more about the future Governor.
In the first segment, Arbetter and Paterson discuss some of Paterson’s genealogy. They also discuss Paterson’s Y-DNA, which is of European origin. Arbetter writes on her blog: "On the Lt. Governor’s paternal side, like almost 25% of all African Americans, he’s got white progenitors from England, Ireland and Scotland."
I often get emails from people who are new to genetic genealogy asking questions about their newly-received DNA testing results. They are unsure about about what the results mean, how to find more information, or what to do next. I also see people ask these questions in all of the DNA forums and mailing lists that I subscribe to. Although I do my best to help the people that email me, I often wish there was more I could do.
In an attempt to assist people with the interpretation of their genetic genealogy testing results, I’ve written an eBook that takes the reader step-by-step through an analysis of their Y-DNA or mtDNA results, including estimating a haplogroup and sub-clade from testing results, finding resources to learn more about particular haplogroups, and finding haplogroup and haplotype matches, among many other topics. Here is the Table of Contents from the 28-page eBook:
An article entitled “Gene Test Kits – Can They Lead To Dating Services” by Annalee Newitz discusses the author’s thoughts on the implications of genome sequencing offered by the number of companies that have sprung up in the past year. As a genetic genealogist who is interested in the intersection of law, science, and ethics, I’m always interested in articles that examine the ethical issues associated with affordable genome sequencing. Unfortunately, this article turned out to have little substance behind some serious accusations.
Newitz begins by mentioning companies 23andMe and deCODEme, both of which recently launched genome scanning services. She then proceeds to her thesis, which is that these services are not only not useful, they are dangerous. She states:
This post isn’t exactly about genetic genealogy. Rather, it is about what I can learn from my visitors in order to make The Genetic Genealogist a better place to visit. By analyzing statistics at the end of each month, I hope to continue to refine the direction of the blog to create and present the best content possible. Here are a few of the things I learned from my visitors this month:
The Top Ten Most Visited Posts:
- The Family Tree of Blue Eyed Individuals
- Where Was My Y-DNA and mtDNA in 1808?
- Family Tree DNA Launches DNATraints, A New DNA Testing Company
- 23andMe Revisited
- African American Lives 2 (February 2008)
- African American Lives 2 (A preview from April 2007)
- Buick And Ancestry DNA Team Up For a DNA Contest
- Genetic Genealogy is SO Mainstream – More Black History Month Events
- Famous DNA Review Part III – Niall of the Nine Hostages
- The First Personal Genomic Sequencing Test Offered for $985
What did I learn from this list? Well, here are a few interesting facts about these posts:
- Only 5 of the top 10 articles were actually written in February 2008! This tells me that previously-written content is important, and that I should consider reviewing and updating popular older posts.
- Four of the top 10 articles were about genetic genealogy and Black History Month. In addition to older content, new content about current topics (such as Black History Month) is equally as important.
- The first two posts were popular among StumbleUpon readers. I’m not surprised by the first article, as it has obvious popular appeal – but I was surprised by the second article. You can never be sure what posts will be picked up and popularized by social media.
Top 15 Keywords in February 2008:
What can I learn from the keywords used by readers to find my blog?
- african american lives 2
- dna articles
- genetic genealogy
- articles on dna
- genetic genealogist
- sorenson genomics
- buick ancestry
- famous dna
- genetic genealogy blog
- genealogy test
- megan smolenyak
Analytics allows me to track other information about these keywords, including (1) how many pages were viewed by people who came to the site via a particular keyword; and (2) the bounce rate of visitors who came via a keyword. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who exit a site from the first page they visit. So, for instance, for my first keyword “african american lives 2″, the average pages read was 2.4, and the bounce rate was 59% (which are both right around my average). What did I learn from my keywords?
Amy Harmon, a science writer for the New York Times, writes “Gene Map Becomes a Luxury Item,” an article about Knome (know-me), a sequencing company that will return a customer’s entire genomic sequence for $350,000. Knome was co-founded by Harvard professor George Church, who also directs the Personal Genome Project.
Dan Stoicescu is a retired millionaire who has recently become Knome’s first customer, and only the second person in the world to purchase his entire genomic sequence. According to Dr. Stoicescu, he understands that as of today there is little that his sequence will reveal, but he plans to compare the results of new studies to his genome daily, “like a stock portfolio.”
The article also reveals that Illumina is planning “to sell whole genome sequencing to the ‘rich and famous market’ this year,” says chief executive Jay Flatley. This probably won’t pose much of a problem to Knome – the founders have stated that they are only “offering 20 individuals the opportunity to participate in [their] initial launch phase.”
The “Starting a Business” section of the online bizjournals site has an article called “Riding the Revolution” that reviews the success of the entrepreneurs behind the popular Family Tree DNA (who recently launched a new company called DNATraits).
The company was founded in April 2000 and is led by president Bennett Greenspan and chief operating officer Max Blankfeld. As the article details, the company has grown from $2.6 million in revenue in 2004 to $12.2 million in 2006, an incredibly impressive climb.
Part of the article describes the company’s future directions and challenges:
“The best solution to building an infrastructure is to be proactive, Blankfeld says, in areas such as human resources, technology and research and development. ‘We hired and keep hiring good people, whether for customer service or the lab; we invested in state-of-the-art equipment for the lab and we keep developing new tests that will respond to our customers’ needs,’ he says.”