Big News for Both Genealogists and Archivists

FamilySearch (a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) announced today that it will provide FREE services to any and all archives and records custodians who wish to digitize, index, publish, and preserve their collections.This is, of course, on top of the ambitious project already underway to digitize and make freely available the 2 million rolls of microfilm stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault.

This is a huge benefit for genealogists, since many more records will be freely available online.This is also a huge benefit for archivists and record depositories, since they can digitize and make available their collections for free using FamilySearch’s many years of scanning experience.

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A New Design

I spent the morning doing a redesign of the blog.  I should have been studying, but I’ve been meaning to give the site a new look for a while now.  My goals were (1) to make the content the center of attention; (2) to quickly and easily provide information about the blog and subscription options to newcomers; (3) to minimize the impact of advertising (since I don’t make that much anyway!); and (4) to make the site more visually pleasing and professional.  If you have any problems accessing information or using the site, please be sure to let me know.  If you like the new design, let me know that too!

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Ask a Geneticist

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Do you have a burning question about genetics that’s been keeping you up at night? Ever wonder why the combination of red hair and brown eyes is so rare? There are two great resources currently available online for anyone who is curious about genetics.

AsktheGeneticist is a partnership between the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University and theDepartment of Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.The mission of AsktheGeneticist “is to answer questions about genetic concepts, and the etiology, treatment, research, testing, and predisposition to genetic disorders.” AsktheGeneticist has a genetic genealogy section, but it’s pretty sparse.

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California has partnered with the Department of Genetics at Stanford University to present “Genetics: Technology with a Twist.”The interactive site has an ‘Ask The Geneticist’ section where you can ask a Stanford geneticist a question.

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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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