Ancestry.com Launches new AncestryDNA Service: The Next Generation of DNA Science Poised to Enrich Family History Research
Affordable DNA Test Combines Depth of Ancestry.com Family History Database with An Extensive Collection of DNA Samples to Open New Doors to Family Discovery
Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM), today announced the launch of its highly anticipated AncestryDNA™ service, a new affordable DNA test that enables purchasers of the DNA test and subscribers of Ancestry.com to combine new state-of-the-art DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource and a broad global database of DNA samples.
Today begins the first in a series of articles about the use of genetic genealogy and personal genomics in the classroom, ranging from high school to college-level.
Many scientists and health care experts believe that genetics will be a vital component to several facets of our lives in the future, especially in the field of medicine. Indeed, some consider the study of genetics to be one of the most promising solutions to many of the health dilemmas facing society today, including advancing our understanding of interactions between genetics and the environment. Accordingly, today’s students should have at least a basic grasp of genetics, and science educators must find innovative ways to share those concepts with their students.
Today, I’m reviewing the new autosomal DNA test from Ancestry.com called “AncestryDNA.” I’ve already written at length about AncestryDNA, so I won’t cover too many of the basics here. I have an in-depth introduction to the product located at “Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product,” which you might want to check out before or after reading this review in order to gather more information.
AncestryDNA: An Introduction
The introduction page, which appears after clicking on “View Results” on the front page, consists of my Genetic Ethnicity Summary and the Member DNA Matches (which is further broken into close cousins and distant cousins, as discussed in detail below). Please note that for purposes of this review I’ve removed the identifying information for my genetic matches.
Last week, I participated in a webinar with Ancestry.com regarding the AncestryDNA test (although, unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early due to a previous engagement). It was a great list of about 10 well-known genealogy bloggers, each one of whom is someone I’ve been reading or following for years. It was an honor to be included among them.
One of the participants was CeCe Moore of Your Genetic Genealogist. CeCe has a nice summary of the webinar and the important points about the autosomal test and the user interface at “New Information on Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product.” If you’re interested in autosomal DNA testing, or in Ancestry.com, I highly recommend reading her post.
Last week I participated in a conference call with members of the show, including Senior Story Editor and Producer Leslie Asako Gladsjo and Chief Genealogist Johni Cerny. Also on the call, although only able to participate for a few minutes, was Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Here are some interesting tidbits about Finding Your Roots – and genealogy in general – that I learned from the conversation:
Gates believes that genetic genealogy is deconstructing the notion of race; never has FTDNA or 23andMe returned an African American’s testing results and reported 100% African, for example. In other words, science is demonstrating that things are much more complicated than we would have guessed without the benefit of DNA.
All guests on Finding Your Roots used both 23andMe and FTDNA for DNA testing – all African Americans participating in the series also used African Ancestry. While the guests receive all their results, we may not always see them.
Many are still wary of genetic genealogy; many potential guests even turned down the series largely because of the DNA testing involved.
Gladsjo and Cerny noted that DNA is just another tool for the genealogist; sometimes the guests’ DNA results were very interesting, and sometimes they were “pretty boring.”
I hope you’ll be tuning in tomorrow to see Finding Your Roots. I have a feeling that this is going to be a fascinating series.
PRI’s The World, a weekday radio news magazine, has a new piece by producer Carol Zall entitled “Roots 2.0: Using DNA to Trace My Ancestry.” The piece makes for a great introduction to genetic genealogy. I especially like the 35-year-old interview between the young Carol and her grandmother, as well as Carol’s interpretation of her results.
I spoke with Carol a few months about this piece, and she included a few quotes from the interview in the article. Also included is a 2-minute soundbite of our conversation:
As I noted in a recent blog post (see “WDYTYA Reveals More Information About Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Testing“), autosomal DNA testing was featured in the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are with actor Blair Underwood. After revealing Mr. Underwood’s biogeographical estimates (74% African American and 26% European), they revealed a genetic cousin found in the Ancestry.com’s database:
The service identified a distant cousin (somewhere around the 10th cousin range) who lived in Cameroon (an Eric Sonjowoh). Mr. Sonjowoh was already in the Ancestry.com database, which is why they were able to compare him to Mr. Underwood. According to Eric, someone approached him in 2005 and asked him for his DNA because African Americans were trying to trace their family back to Cameroon. I’m not sure what database the DNA was in, but it shows that Ancestry.com has pre-populated its database with at least some samples from other public and/or proprietary data sources.
[Update (2/24/12): Some genealogy forums are reporting that callers to Ancestry.com are being told that the autosomal DNA test will publicly launch in approximately 1 month (late March or early April).]
Tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured African-American actor Blair Underwood. For those not familiar with Who Do You Think You Are, the 1-hour program examines the genealogy of a celebrity, typically focusing on one or two of their most interesting families.
This episode was of particular interest to me because it featured Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA testing service, which I’ve written about before (see “Ancestry.com’s Autosomal DNA Product – An Update”). While there wasn’t too much new information about the DNA product in this episode, it was an interesting sneak peek at the service.
In an interview with Business Insider, Anne Wojcicki reported that the company is creating a marketing team. Indeed, I’ve seen at least one marketing position (VP of Marketing) offered by 23andMe in several locations over the past 2 weeks (see here and here, for example). It looks like it would be a very interesting and fun position.
The article also notes that as of October 2011, the 23andMe database officially had 125,000 subscribers.