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The Entrepreneurs Behind Family Tree DNA

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.”

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New R1b SNP Series From Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA announces a new SNP product for members of the R1b Y-chromosome haplogroup. The following was posted at the DNA-NEWBIE Yahoogroup by Max Blankfeld, Vice-President of Operations and Marketing at FTDNA:

Many of you have asked about, and have quoted Bennett Greenspan’s comment at the 4th Annual FTDNA Conference on Genetic Genealogy, that in early 2008 we’d be offering the R1b U SNP’s, known as U106 and U152 (also called: S21/S28). We are pleased to announce today that a mini panel containing those SNP’s (as well as U198 and P107) are now available.

Previously, FTDNA could SNP test for R1b1c1 through R1b1c8, but was not testing for R1b1c9, R1b1c10, or R1b1c11. The new SNPs will test for R1b1c9 (U106), R1b1c9b (U198), and R1b1c10 (U152). The P107 SNP is a private SNP within R1b1c9. The R1b tree is available through ISOGG:

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Genetic Genealogy and Black History Month

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With the popular African American Lives series on PBS and numerous news stories and magazine columns, Black History Month often results in increased attention to the genealogy and genetic history of African Americans. I saw a similar increased interest in genetic genealogy last February as well.

The Multiracial Roots of Americans

Diverse has an article entitled “More Americans Are Discovering Their Multiracial Roots.” The article discusses traditional genealogical research, then mentions genetic genealogy – particularly automosal testing:

“One of the more fascinating developments with the new genealogy is the extent to which DNA testing is revealing the multi-racial ancestry of Americans. While there’s some controversy about the claims of DNA testing firms as to how accurately they can match individuals to ancestors from specific communities and ethnic groups, there’s a consensus that proper testing can roughly specify a person’s relative mix of his or her ancestors’ geographic origins.”

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More 23andMe in the News

image Earlier today I posted about the recent updates to the 23andMe service, including an enhanced Gene Journal section and the new Paternal Ancestry.

To get a much more thorough analysis of these new additions, read David P. Hamilton’s “23andMe makes genomics personal — and slick” at VentureBeat: lifesciences. Hamilton’s articles are always insightful and well-written, and I would highly recommend this one, especially if you are considering a personal genomics service.

Interestingly, Hamilton gives 23andMe’s website high marks over deCODEme’s similar service. Hsien-Hsien Lei at Eye on DNA recently highlighted (in a post entitled “Ann Turner on Personal Genomics Companies 23andMe vs deCODEme“) an article written by genetic genealogist Ann Turner for the GENEALOGY-DNA mailing list in which she compared the services offered by the two companies. Genetic Future picked up Eye on DNA’s post and wrote “Ann Turner compares 23andMe and deCODEme.”

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23andMe Adds Paternal Ancestry and an Updated Gene Journal

The Spittoon (23andMe’s blog) announces their new paternal ancestry tool. The information was already obtained from all male participants, so no further sampling is needed. I’m not sure which SNPs they are using to determine haplogroup status, but I’ll look into it.

The Gene Journal (here) adds 30 conditions and traits to bring the total number to almost 60. Interestingly, the conditions and traits are classified as either “Established Research” or “Preliminary Research” based on the studies from which they are derived.

And finally, there is a free demo account that “lets you explore all the features of our service using genetic data from our sample family, the Mendels.” It’s a good way to examine how the genomic data is analyzed and returned to customers using a browser interface.

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Family Tree DNA Launches DNATraits, A New DNA Testing Company

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Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld [I apologize for the previous misspelling of Greenspan's and Blankfeld's names] of the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA have launched a new service called DNATraits to examine a customer’s DNA for evidence of genetic disease. According to the website, DNATraits:

“provides direct-to-consumer genetic data from tests conducted on individual DNA samples. DNATraits offers tests that are broader in scope and less expensive than any in the world, complete with a free consultation with our genetic counselors before testing (optional) and a free consultation after testing (required) to discuss your results.”

DNATraits claims that their service is different from other DNA testing companies, as explained in their comparison page. Notably, the process of returning the results to the consumer appears to be different from some other companies: the DNA results are returned to the “DNATraits medical doctor for review and confirmation” before being sent to a genetic counselor. The customer is then emailed and directed to set up a telephone appointment with the genetic counselor. After the consultation, the customer is given direct access to all their test results.

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DNAPrint Genomics to be Acquired by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals

DNAPrintG GenomeWeb Daily News announced on Friday that DNAPrint Genomics is being purchased by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals (I’ve written about DNAPrint here and here, including about their Doggie DNAPrint product). Here is the press release from Nanobac.

DNAPrint had a big year in 2007 with a number of partnerships and new products, and many people have forgotten or were unaware that the autosomal genetic genealogical tests offered by DNAPrint’s AncestrybyDNA are just a small part of the company’s business. From the Nanobac press release:

“DNAG’s primary objective has been, and Nanobac’s primary objective will be, to develop progressive theranostics drugs, which combine extensively modeled drugs with genomics-derived intelligence to create more economical and powerful drug/test combination products with superior performance parameters. DNAG’s flagship product, PT-401, is expected to result in more effective treatment of anemia, and its Protectin(TM) (CD-59) diagnostic test is expected to allow patients and their physicians to more effectively manage the risks and treatment decisions for diabetes. DNAG supports its clinical programs, in part, through the sale of consumer genetics tests genotyping services on a contractual basis.”

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SeqWright Launches Personal Genomics Service

logo1.jpgAs I recently mentioned, SeqWright has launched a new Personal Genomics Service. Using a saliva sample, this service will analyze 930,000 SNPs from a customer’s genome using the Affymetrix 6.0 Human SNP Genotyping microarray. SeqWright will then report information back to the customer about “Genetic Health,” “Ancestral Origins,” and “Genealogy.” The cost of the service is $998. According to the website, they “will begin accepting orders for Genetic Profiling Services on Monday January 28 2008.” The official press release is available here.

From the consent form available on the SeqWright website:

“SeqWright will generate its client’s personal genomic data on the Affymetrix 6.0 Human SNP Genotyping microarray. This Array is capable of recognizing approximately 930,000 unique human SNP’s. However, due to individual sample and test variation the number of SNP genotypes that SeqWright will report for a given individual will be a fraction of those SNP’s.”

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And The Winner Of The FREE Genetic Genealogy Test Is…..

DNA HeritageJasia of Creative Gene! Jasia’s winning entry was from a post she wrote about the contest. If Jasia accepts the prize, she will discuss her testing experience or her results either on her blog or here at The Genetic Genealogist, which should be a lot of fun and will help genetic genealogy newbies gain some insight into testing. Congratulations Jasia!

If Jasia doesn’t claim the prize, or decides she doesn’t want it, the runner-up for this contest is Yann of Yann Klimentidis’ Weblog.

Thank you to everyone who wrote about the contest on their blog, subscribed to my feed, subscribed to my mailing list, or left a comment at the original post. Overall, 34 people entered the contest with a total of 117 entries! I met some new readers and read some fantastic posts about the blog. At the end of this post is a list of all the blogs that mentioned the contest.

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