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Announcing Family Finder – An Autosomal Test From Family Tree DNA

In a move that puts it in more direct competition with personal genomics companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA announced today that it will offer a large-scale autosomal test for genealogical  purposes.  The test, which will be available to the public in mid-March, will allow test-takers the opportunity to connect with matching family members across all genetic ancestral lines.  The test will launch at a price of $249.

The Family Tree DNA Family Finder site is now online.

Although other companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme offer similar tests, members of the genetic genealogy community have lamented the fact that their databases are populated in significant part by people who have no interest in genealogy.  Presumably, people who purchase the FTDNA test and become part of that database will be strongly motivated by genealogical interests, and thus will be interested in communicating with genetic relatives.

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Hacking Admixed 23andMe Ancestry Paintings

DAVIDE at the European Genetics and Anthropology Blog has an interesting post regarding 23andMe’s Ancestry Painting, at “Taking a closer look at your inter-continental ancestry results at 23andMe.”  In the post, he describes how to “rummage through the Flash data behind the “Ancestry Painting” presentation” to learn more about the SNPs involved an admixed Ancestry Painting.  The post includes the incredibly simple directions:

First of all, you have to make sure you’ve got the free Firebug plug-in installed. Right click on the little bug in the lower-right corner of your browser window, and choose “Enable all panels”.  Then left click the same bug icon, which should make a whole new section appear at the bottom of the screen.

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A Review of Familybuilder DNA Testing

familybuilder1

Familybuilder, launched in 2007, is a genealogy company that ranks among the top 10 online genealogy services in the world with over 17 million users and over 120 million family tree profiles.  Late last year the company began offering a genetic genealogy product, as I wrote about here on the blog (see “Familybuilder Announces DNA Testing”).

Disclosure: This is a review of Familybuilder’s Y-DNA service using a kit I received free of charge for purposes of this review.  Please note that this is not meant to be an endorsement but merely a review of the Y-DNA service offered by Familybuilder.

The results of a Familybuilder Y-DNA test includes:

“The Migration Map for you and your ancestors, your 17 Markers, your Haplogroup and the History of your DNA.  In addition, the ability to share your results with family and friends on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace as well as a downloadable PDF (suitable for framing).”

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Genetic Genealogy Tidbits

  • Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, has started a new blog entitled The Life & Times of Lilly Mendel.  I’m looking forward to some interesting reading as Linda establishes the Brainstorm Research Foundation dedicated to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.

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23andMe’s Relative Finder Success Stories at ISOGG

ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, has a “Success Stories” page where it posts short summaries of just a few the many successes that genetic genealogy has helped people achieve.  Today I noticed that there are several new summaries regarding “Autosomal DNA Successes,” both of which were the result of 23andMe’s new Relative Finder (currently still in beta testing).

Relative Finder

As I recently wrote, Relative Finder is a feature at 23andMe that allows users to compare their autosomal DNA to the autosomal DNA of others to potentially find cousins.  This has long been done with Y-DNA and mtDNA, but this is one of the first times this has been done with autosomal DNA.

Success Story #1

The first success story is from someone who used Relative Finder to identify a huge number of potential cousins.  After connecting one of his or her potential 4th cousins, the individuals discovered that they have similar surnames from a certain location in common (in addition to DNA on chromosomes 3 and 10).  This individual also wisely noted that s/he now has “a good idea of the path that two of my DNA segments took through my pedigree to get to me.”  This is something I wrote about recently in “The Future of Genetic Genealogy – Tracing DNA To Individual Ancestors.”

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The World of Genetic Genealogy and DTC Genetic Testing Never Sleeps…

In the past week there have been so many articles and posts about either genetic genealogy or DTC genetics that I’m writing them up as a summary post rather than individually.

The New York Times Tackles DTC Genetic Testing

An article in yesterday’s New York Times by Jane E. Brody – “Buyer Beware of Home DNA Tests” – argues that DTC genetic testing is fraught with danger (the article and some of Brody’s arguments are summarized by Grace Ibay of Genetics & Health: “Seven Reasons Why Home DNA Tests Are Hype”).  The author even lumps in genetic genealogy (which has been around for over 9 years now, hardly a “new industry” that has sprung up “to cash in” on new science):

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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation First to Adopt Genetic Genealogy’s New Industry Standard for Reporting Y-DNA Profiles

Today, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) reported that they are adopting a standardized Y-STR reporting system proposed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce and supported by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG).

The standardized system was first published in the Fall 2008 issue (pdf) of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG).

First, let me add a note of caution – this change ONLY represents a change in how results are REPORTED.  Even though companies report results differently, this does not mean that the actual DNA testing results are wrong or different!  This shift is NOT to correct errors in testing results; it is only to standardize reporting.

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Pathway Genomics Officially Launches

imageIn March I announced the unofficial launch of Pathway Genomics, a new company offering genome SNP tests (Note: I am a consultant for Pathway Genomics).  Today the company officially launched, and their press release is below.  There is also an article at Bio-IT World (“Pathway Genomics Joins the Direct-to-Consumer Genomics Parade”).

Press Release:

Pathway Genomics Brings Together Renowned Team of Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Physicians, and a Government Certified Lab to Offer Personal Genetics Services

San Diego, Calif., July 15, 2009—Pathway Genomics, a privately held, venture‐backed company, today announced its launch, including the company’s web site, www.pathway.com. Pathway Genomics offers affordable genetic tests for under $250, enabling consumers to confidentially learn about their risk for various diseases, adverse drug responses, carrier status, and ancestral history. Leveraging customized and highly innovative DNA genotyping technologies, Pathway Genomics generates the most extensive analysis of an individual’s risk for disease and can trace the path of a person’s maternal and paternal ancestry back more than 150,000 years.

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Ancestry.com’s Genetic Genealogy Webinar

On July 8th, Ancestry.com hosted a webinar called “Genetic Genealogy Made Easy.”  The webinar is now posted and can be accessed at any time.  One great thing about a webinar is that it can be multimedia; indeed, this webinar uses both slides and video.

The presentation is pretty basic, but a good source of information for people who are new to genetic genealogy.  The following topics are covered, according to the site:

- DNA testing for genealogy works–in easy terms.
– To understand and apply your results to grow your tree.
– Ancestry.com DNA testing can continue to pay off for years.
– Women can benefit from a paternal lineage test.
– To use Ancestry.com DNA features: Groups, Transfer to Tree, and Ancient Ancestry.

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