ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, has a â€œSuccess Storiesâ€ page where it posts short summaries of just a few the many successes that genetic genealogy has helped people achieve.Â Today I noticed that there are several new summaries regarding â€œAutosomal DNA Successes,â€ both of which were the result of 23andMeâ€™s new Relative Finder (currently still in beta testing).
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.Â 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.Â 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).Â This individual also wisely noted that s/he now has â€œa good idea of the path that two of my DNA segments took through my pedigree to get to me.”Â This is something I wrote about recently in â€œThe Future of Genetic Genealogy â€“ Tracing DNA To Individual Ancestors.â€
In the past week there have been so many articles and posts about either genetic genealogy or DTC genetics that Iâ€™m writing them up as a summary post rather than individually.
The New York Times Tackles DTC Genetic Testing
An article in yesterdayâ€™s New York Times by Jane E. Brody â€“ â€œBuyer Beware of Home DNA Testsâ€ â€“ 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: â€œSeven Reasons Why Home DNA Tests Are Hypeâ€).Â The author even lumps in genetic genealogy (which has been around for over 9 years now, hardly a â€œnew industryâ€ that has sprung up â€œto cash inâ€ on new science):
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 â€“ this change ONLY represents a change in how results are REPORTED.Â Even though companies report results differently, this does not mean that the actual DNA testing results are wrong or different!Â This shift is NOT to correct errors in testing results; it is only to standardize reporting.
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, 2009â€”Pathway Genomics, a privately held, ventureâ€backed company, today announced its launch, including the companyâ€™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 individualâ€™s risk for disease and can trace the path of a personâ€™s maternal and paternal ancestry back more than 150,000 years.
On July 8th, Ancestry.com hosted a webinar called “Genetic Genealogy Made Easy.”Â The webinar is now posted and can be accessed at any time.Â 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.Â 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.
Biomatrica today announced that the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) will use Biomatrica’s SampleMatrix room temperature storage technology to archive its DNA samples.
SMGF will use the SampleMatrix technology in place of ultra-low-temperature freezers for the long-term storage of all newly collected samples. In addition, SMGF will move its collection of previously archived samples from freezers to room temperature storage.
“SMGF has an extremely valuable collection of DNAs, and we have been very concerned about the long-term storage and preservation of the collection,” said Scott Woodward, executive director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. “Biomatrica has developed a product that we feel addresses our concerns in a very practical, economical and secure way.”
An article in the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National (wikipedia) does a terrific job of highlighting recent research from Family Tree DNA.Â The story – â€œDNA could illuminate Islamâ€™s lineageâ€ â€“ discusses research that has attempted to elucidate the Y-DNA signature of Mohammed.Â Although Mohammed did not have a son, he had a daughter who married her paternal second cousin, thus passing to Mohammedâ€™s grandchildren the same Y-DNA.Â From the article:
â€œFor almost 1,600 years, the title Sharif, Sayyed, or Habib has been bestowed on Muslims who have been able to trace their roots back to the Prophet Mohammed through intricate family trees, oral histories and genealogical records. But now an American DNA lab says it may have identified the DNA signature of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and perhaps the prospect of a direct, more accurate means of confirming or identifying such a connection.â€
SALT LAKE CITY (May 26, 2009) – GeneTree and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) today announced a special offer to the tens of thousands of men who donated their Y-DNA samples and pedigree information to the non-profit SMGF’s genetic genealogy database. At a deeply discounted price, participants now may access their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree and employ the site’s extensive tools, including the SMGF database, to search and connect with genetic relatives.
SMGF has been building the database-the world’s most diverse collection of genetic genealogy information-since 2000 through donation of DNA samples and four-generation genealogy questionnaires by people interested in helping the foundation succeed in its goal of connecting the human family through genetic genealogy. Until the launch of GeneTree in Oct. 2007, SMGF did not have a way to provide participants with their genetic profiles in a meaningful form. Now for $49.50, or about one-third of the typical price, SMGF participants can receive their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree.
In January I wrote about Benjaman Kyle, an amnesiac who was found on August 31, 2004 next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.Â In that post, â€œUsing Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle,â€ I suggested that a Y-DNA test might be helpful in elucidating Mr. Kyleâ€™s biological surname.Â Y-DNA testing has shown to be highly useful for identifying unknown surnames (see here and here), and so I contacted Mr. Kyle to suggest the possibility.
The Results Are In
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kyle took a 67-marker test from Family Tree DNA.Â The results, announced it seems by Kimberly Powell of Kimberlyâ€™s Genealogy Blog, suggest that his surname might actually be POWELL or a variant thereof.Â His results are now part of the Powell Surname DNA Project as kit #140314 where he very closely matches the â€œJoseph Powell Group.â€Â See more here.Â From Kimberlyâ€™s post: