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Top 5 Reasons to Save Your Grandmother’s DNA

1.You got those big blue eyes from your grandmother, but chances are you inherited less desirable genes as well.We inherit our DNA from our parents, who inherited it from their parents.Since we all possess genes that can cause or contribute to disease, knowing one’s DNA and family medical history can be a great resource for someone who learns they have a genetic disorder.

2.Full genome sequencing is right around the corner!The X-prize quest for the $1000 genome will lead to efficient and affordable whole-genome sequencing.As commercial companies crop up and compete for customer’s business, leading to even lower prices.

3.Your grandmother’s DNA contains clues to her ancestry.X-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal genealogy tests contain clues to a person’s ancestry, both recent and ancient.

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Can Scientists Have a Sense of Humor?

Scienceroll just posted a hilarious video called the “DNA-ting Game“, an advertisement for Caliper Life Sciences which is a spoof on 1970’s “The Dating Game.” If you think science humor is funny, you’ll love this video. I highly recommend you go check it out. For a little background information, they talking about analyzing DNA samples using gel electrophoresis. The video is actually an elaborate advertisement for an alternative to electorphoresis.

There are some other funny videos I’ve seen as well, including the great advertising campaign from Biocompare. There are three commercials – here, here, and here. They’re another example of biotechnology companies jumping into this field of advertising. In our lab we typically made decisions based on price, but who knows what effect appealing to our sense of humor might have?

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Native American DNA in England

I was very surprised when genetic testing revealed that my maternal lineage was not European. I’m sure, however, that my surprise was nothing compared to that of two British women who recently discovered that their maternal lineage was of Native American descent (the original article is available through the BBC).

Doreen Isherwood and Anne Hall learned that their mtDNA belonged to Haplogroups A and C, traditional Native American Haplogroups. As the BBC story explains, Native Americans were brought back to England as early as the 1500s.

Said Ms. Hall: “I was thrilled to bits. It was a very pleasant surprise. To have Native American blood is very exotic.”

Thanks to The Genealogue.

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Genetic Genealogy in Iceland

Yesterday Science published a report from deCODE genetics in Iceland and a second report from academic colleagues in the United States and Canada that announced the discovery of a gene variant (a SNP) on chromosome 9p21 that results in an increased risk of heart attack (the abstracts are available online here and here). The SNP was discovered through genome-wide SNP analysis in Iceland and replicated in three groups of European descent in the United States. I don’t have access to either paper, but according to deCODE’s press release the variant is estimated to account for 20% of the incidence of heart attacks in Europeans, including one-third of early-onset cases (men and women age 50 to 60). Both companies used SNP Chips (that’s fun to say outloud), tiny gene chips that contain thousands and thousands of SNPs across the entire genome. Want to learn more about SNPs? Go to the SNP information page at the Human Genome Project.

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Learn More About DNA and Genetic Genealogy at Roots Television

Last week I posted Ten Videos for Genetic Genealogists, a collection of YouTube and other videos that might be of use to people who are just starting out in the field of genetic genealogy (and hopefully many others!).

Another valuable (and ever-growing) resource for genetic genealogists (indeed, for ALL genealogists, is Roots TelevisionTM.  Roots Television is an online media presentation website created by historian Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and media producer Marcy Brown.  The site offers a wide variety of programming on such topics as genetic genealogy, Irish roots, and African roots, as well as recordings of presentations by some of the world’s leading genealogists (to name only a few).

Roots TelevisionTM introduces themselves with the following:

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Podcast Interview with the CEO of AncestryByDNA

Update: The podcast was updated to add the last 5 minutes of the interview (after the commercial break).  As a result, the link to the podcast changed.  I apologize to everyone who tried the old link – it should work fine now.

Market News First, a website dedicated to microcap markets, recently interviewed the CEO of DNAPrint Genomics, Inc.”Richard Gabriel, President and CEO of DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. spoke with MN1.com’s Rich Hancock on April 26th, 2007 about the Company’s innovative and cutting edge technology that aids law enforcement crime scene investigation (CSI) forensics, consumer applications in genealogy ancestry/genetic testing and its pharmaceutical and diagnostic applications. Mr. Gabriel highlights the Company’s recent advances in its pharmaceutical and diagnostic, and talks about its successes in both law enforcement and the growth market of DNAPrint’s consumer oriented products.”

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GINA: A Primer

dnaa.jpg1.Who is GINA?
GINA isn’t a ‘who’, it’s a ‘what’.GINA stands for Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.

2.Okay, what is the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act?
GINA aims to protect individuals in a variety of different areas.The legislation would prohibit access to genetic information by insurance companies and would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against an applicant based on genetic information, the refusal to submit genetic information, or for have been genetically tested in the past.Additionally, the Act would prohibit employers from using or collecting genetic information to make employment decisions. The Act also establishes a Genetic Nondiscrimination Study Commission that is charged with reviewing new developments in the field of genetics and advising Congress.

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DNA Day

dnadaybanner2007.jpgI was unaware that today is actually DNA day.  Learn more here.

“National DNA Day is a unique day where students, teachers and the public can learn more about genetics and genomics! It was created to commemorate the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, and the discovery of DNA’s double helix.

Students and teachers nationwide can celebrate DNA Day and learn more about genetics and genomics through the National DNA Day activities available on these pages. NHGRI offers an online chatroom, a library of webcasts featuring genomic researchers, interactive teaching tools and an opportunity through our Ambassador program to invite a real-life genomic researcher to talk to your students.”

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Is Genetic Genealogy A Scam?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I am a strong proponent of genetic testing for genealogical purposes.I believe that when used correctly genetic testing can serve as a valuable tool in the genealogist’s toolbox.

A recent visitor found my blog with the search term “is genetic genealogy a scam?”When I recreated the search, I discovered that a previous post on this blog is the leading link for this search. The process made me think about the many people who are skeptical or wary of genetic genealogy.As a scientist, I appreciate and encourage healthy skepticism.After all, genetic genealogy has been available for less than a decade, and it has changed considerably since it was first offered.I believe that anyone who forays into the world of genetic genealogy should have a basic understanding of the science and the application of the results.Just reading about genetic genealogy in the media can give one a distorted view of the technology.Along this point, I recommend reading an interesting article by Rebecca Skloot (author of the upcoming book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which I can’t wait to read).I was referred to that article by a post on her blog (Culture Dish) entitled “The Bogus-ness of DNA Testing for Genealogy Research” in which she reiterates the point that genetic genealogy tests “simply can’t tell you anything definitive about your heredity unless you’re testing your DNA and comparing it to someone else’s to find out if you’re related.”

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