David Hamilton at VentureBeat: Life Sciences recently wrote about the potential business plans of two popular genomic companies – Navigenics and 23andMe. It appears that the post was motivated by the recent article in Portfolio. David writes:
“Over the last few months, startups like 23andMe and Navigenics have attracted a fair bit of attention for promising to let ordinary people search through their own genomes to better understand their disease risk, genealogy and ancestry. One of the first major efforts to figure them out, however â€” courtesy of the November issue of Portfolio â€” left me with the distinct impression that these companies may not actually be anywhere near as revolutionary as they seem.”
There’s some discussion in the comment section, and David presents a number of links to the many previous articles he’s written about 23andMe and Navigenics.
That’s the title of an article at BBC News yesterday. The article’s header states that:
“More and more people in the UK are following America’s lead in spending hundreds of pounds on private genetic tests.”
The article is about genetic testing for health concerns, not for genealogical purposes. Although the article is very short, the author does manage to highlight a few of the potential benefits and downfalls of genetic testing.
DNA Heritage is hosting a video contest for people who have undergone DNA testing for ancestral purposes. Following are the details of the contest:
Dear Customer,Thank you for all of your suggestions for improving the website which we have put into motion. Among them is flexible DNA storage, which we shall implement at the end of this month (we’ll let you know when).Spotted the video link on our home page? We wanted to hear about your own experience.Have a story to tell?
Want to tell people why you took a DNA test or what it told you about you and your family? How has it helped your research? How did you do it and what did you get out of it?
Tell us by video and we’ll give you 50% off your next test, be it for you, a friend or some distant cousin in another part of the world. Not a bad Xmas present for a few minutes work…
If we think it’s the best one we’ll give you three free tests.
1.Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists.
Wrong!If youâ€™ve ever wondered about the origins of your DNA, or about your direct paternal or maternal ancestral line, then genetic genealogy might be an interesting way to learn more.Although DNA testing of a single line, such as through an mtDNA test, will only examine one ancestor out of 1024 potential ancestors at 10 generations ago, this is a 100% improvement over 0 ancestors out of 1024.If you add your fatherâ€™s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement.Now add your motherâ€™s mtDNA, and so on.However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:
2.Iâ€™m going to send in my DNA sample and get back my entire family tree.
Last week there were a couple of other articles in the news about genetic genealogy:
1. Newsweek.com – “Shaking the Family Tree with Recreational Genetics.” The article is largely in response to last week’s article in Science (see my previous coverage). There are a number of interesting comments following the Newsweek article – I would recommend browsing through them if you have the time.
2. The Courier-Journal – “DNA Discovery.” The article is mostly about Oxford Ancestors.
As I mentioned earlier today, GeneTree has been redesigned, and actually launched this morning. There is a FAQ page, and a new blog. There’s also an extensive Press Room, with logos and screen shots – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
So what is GeneTree? According to the FAQ:
“GeneTree is a family history sharing site created to help people everywhere understand how their personal stories belong within the framework of the greater human genetic story â€“ by discovering their genetic heritage and identity, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and perspective through personal stories, photos, video and documents.”
I’m sure there will be a lot of media coverage today and over the course of the week, but here is an article at Computerworld. Following is the official press release:
At the 2007 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August, Alex Haley, the nephew of the Chris Haley – the author of “Roots”, joined the many people who have tested their DNA for ancestral information.Â It turns out that his Y-DNA is of European origin.
The article at KUTV also contains what MUST be a mistake:
“Next week, The Sorenson Cos. plans to roll out a separate DNA-based Web site called jeantree.com. Chief Executive James L. Sorenson declined to discuss details Tuesday, although it will rely on a larger DNA database.”
Either Sorenson is planning to sell denim-related products, or the journalist misunderstood “Genetree.com”. Stay tuned for further details about the re-launch of this site.
There’s been considerable discussion of the article and the author’s conclusions at the Genealogy-DNA mailing list. One of the most interesting posts was by Kim Tallbear, a long-time member of the list and co-author of the Science article. The post, “Response to Genetic Genealogists From Authors of Oct. 19th Science Article“, is important reading for anyone who is following the development of this story. The following is a quote from Dr. Tallbear’s post:
“We orginally had language in the article that noted the expertise of genetic genealogists such as some of you on this list. (My interactions on this listserv taught me well that there is a good deal of expertise here.) But with space constraints the editors cut that language.)”
Today’s issue of Science contains a new look into the world of genetic genealogy. “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, examines the benefits and drawbacks of genetic genealogy. Here is a table summary of the researcher’s conclusions:
One interesting fact from the article is that the number of people who have purchased genetic genealogy tests is estimated to be over 460,000! If you would like to read more about this study, there are a number of other sources of information, including a press release from The University of Texas at Austin, where the first author, Deborah A. Bolnick, is assistant professor of anthropology. There is also a feature story at The University of Texas’ website. In this feature story, Dr. Bolnick states: