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The 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

I4GG

I know I say this every year, but 2014 is shaping up to be the year of Genetic Genealogy. There are many incredible opportunities this year for anyone interested in genetic genealogy to learn more and interact with others.

For example, just last month RootsTech 2014 featured numerous DNA sessions. This coming June, there will be an entire day of DNA at the 2014 SCGS Jamboree, where I and many other speakers will cover numerous topics related to DNA (see my coverage here and here). Among my presentations at Jamboree will be a completely new lecture that I’m really excited about – “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard,” which will be the first presentation completely devoted to the topic, and which I hope will spur some important conversation!

And in July 2014, Debbie Parker Wayne, CeCe Moore, and I will be teaching “Practical Genetic Genealogy” at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).  This will be the … Click to read more!

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DNA Standards and Certification – A Response to an NGS Quarterly Editorial

EDIT 2/8/2014 - I am happy to report that the group originally organized by CeCe Moore is still planning to work on standards, guidelines, and certification for Genetic Genealogists, and thus I will continue to work with that group. Thank you to everyone that expressed support, and I will try to contact you soon.

Original Post:

Below, I’m taking the unenviable position of disagreeing, at least in part, with an editorial by Melinde Lutz Byrne and Thomas W. Jones in National Genealogical Society Quarterly entitled “DNA Standards.” (1)  I’m writing to share my viewpoint and my thoughts about moving forward, and to provide a venue for continued discussion on the subject.

This is also the first post in a series of posts about “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard,” culminating with a presentation with the same title at SCGS Jamboree 2014 (on Friday … Click to read more!

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DNA Presentations at Jamboree (Other than on DNA Day)

DNA_JamboreeAs I wrote previously, the Southern California Genealogical Society has officially announced the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree (June 6-8, 2014), which will again be preceded by Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014.

In addition to many presentations on DNA Day (Thursday), there are DNA-related presentations planned throughout Jamboree (Friday through Saturday).

Browsing through the schedule (links at top of page here), these are the presentations I found either directed to DNA or explicitly utilizing DNA:

  • Blaine Bettinger (FR018) – “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard”
  • CeCe Moore (FR019) – “Why Should I Take a DNA Test?”
  • Nicka Smith, Angela Walton-Raji, Bernice Bennett and Shelly Murphy (FR024) – “The Future of African American Genealogy”
  • Bennett Greenspan (SA037) – “The Future of Genetic Genealogy”
  • ISOGG (SA049) – “Ask the Experts about DNA and Genealogy”
  • Maurice Gleeson (SU020) – “Ireland and the Slave Trade”
  • Drew Smith (SU024) – “DNA 102: Understanding and Using Test Results”
  • Blaine Bettinger (SU029) – “Begging for Spit”

My Other Presentations

I’m especially excited about presenting “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard.”  This topic has not received nearly enough coverage by the genealogy community, and I think it’s very important. I will absolutely be asking for input from others, so feel free to share your thoughts below … Click to read more!

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DNA Day 2014 at the 45th Southern California Genealogy Jamboree!

Family History and DNA 2014The Southern California Genealogical Society has officially announced the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree (June 6-8, 2014), which will again be preceded by Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014.

Last year’s “Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2013″ was the first of its kind and was a huge success  As a result, the Jamboree organizers have organized a second DNA Day, which will held all day on Thursday, June 5, 2014, which is the day before Jamboree begins.

The FULL schedule for DNA Day 2014 is HERE (Thursday Schedule).

Keynote Speaker Dr. Maurice Gleeson

The keynote speaker at Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014 will be Dr. Maurice Gleeson, a popular speaker and the organizer of Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013, Ireland’s first conference on genetic genealogy.  I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gleeson at last year’s event (including about his … Click to read more!

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New Updates From Family Tree DNA

Following a trend inspired by discussions at the recent Conference for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators, Family Tree DNA has released a new set of updates.  This week’s update includes the ability to change the location for your most distant known maternal or paternal ancestors, and the ability to determine which of your Family Finder matches actually match each other.  Although this functionality was previously available, it was cumbersome and was not accompanied by any visualization.

From Family Tree DNA:

Weekly Information Technology/Engineering Update (10 Dec 2013)

Matches Maps Locations Clear Button

Some users have requested the ability to clear their stored map coordinates for their most distant known maternal or paternal ancestors. We have added a

Weekly Information Technology/Engineering Update (10 Dec 2013)

button to Step 3 of the Update Most Distant Ancestor’s Location wizard.

Family Tree DNA myFTDNA BETA Family Finder … Click to read more!

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23andMe Will Continue to Sell Genetic Tests For Ancestry

23andMeYesterday, 23andMe provided an update on its blog (see “23andMe Provides An Update Regarding FDA’s Review”) about how it will respond to the FDA’s recent warning letter.  In a nutshell, the company will continue to sell the same Personal Genome Service (“PGS”) kits, but new customers will only have access to ancestry-related genetic information and tools, and to their raw data.  No health-related information will be provided, for now.  Existing customers will continue to have access to all tools, including health-related information.

I’ll note that this is exactly what I predicted would happen in my blog post about the FDA warning letter (see “The FDA Orders 23andMe to Stop Marketing Medical Tests”).  You heard it here first!  It’s really the most logical approach while 23andMe communicates with the FDA.

The blog post spells out the … Click to read more!

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Understanding Autosomal DNA With Just a Few Basic Tenets

Genetic Tree Showing Ethnicity LossUnderstanding the complexities of autosomal DNA can be very challenging for newbies.

However, there are a few basic tenets that I believe can help these newbies.  These tenets are essentially tools that newbies can use to analyze an autosomal DNA problem for themselves.

For example, here are the two very basic tenets that I typically introduce in my autosomal DNA lectures especially for the newbies:

  • You only have to go  back about 5 generations to start losing ancestors from your Genetic Family Tree.

So many of the issues that newbies run into can be resolved or prevented through understanding of these concepts.

The Coop Lab

The lab of Graham Coop, an associate professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, maintains a blog where they often discuss genetics.  Today they published an interesting blog post … Click to read more!

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Identifying Ötzi the Iceman’s Relatives

In 1991, German tourists in the Alps discovered the mummified remains of a man who died approximately 5,000 years ago. Named Ötzi, the remains have been studied extensively and have revealed a wealth of information about life in this region.

Ötzi’s DNA

Of note to genetic genealogists, Ötzi’s DNA has also been the subject of extensive analysis.  In February 2012, sequencing of Ötzi’s full genome was announced (see here and here) which revealed, among other things, that the Iceman probably had brown eyes, belonged to blood group O, and was lactose intolerant.  He may also have had Lyme disease, as the genome of the infectious agent  Borrelia burgdorferi was also identified in the sequencing effort.

Ötzi’s Y-DNA belongs to a subclade of Haplogroup G defined by the SNPs … Click to read more!

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Fast Company Magazine Features 23andMe and Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki


23andMe and co-founder Anne Wojcicki are featured in the cover story of the November issue of Fast Company entitled “Anne Wojcicki Is The Most Daring CEO In America.”

Accompanying the cover story are a number of different online articles, including the following:

Article #1 – “Inside 23andMe Founder Anne Wojcicki’s $99 DNA Revolution” by Elizabeth Murphy (not her real name – it was changed to protect the identity of her adopted daughter, who 23andMe testing revealed has an extremely high propensity for Alzheimer’s disease)

Article #2 - “Behind the Scenes of the Ad Campaign for 23andMe’s $99 DNA Test” – a brief look at how 23andMe is trying to recruit 1 million new customers. The article features a handful of tv spots, and reveals that many of the actors took a 23andMe test.

Article #3 - “To Know You is to Really Know You” – some interesting statistics about 23andMe customers, including that they are 50/50 male/female, and … Click to read more!

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A New Patent For 23andMe Creates Controversy

There has been a great deal of coverage this week of the new patent issued to genetic testing company 23andMe.  U.S. Pat No. 8,543,339 is entitled “Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations” and is directed to methods for predicting traits for a child based on the DNA of candidate parents, and selecting a preferred donor based at least in part on the prediction.
Some of the coverage (including an editorial in Genetics in Medicine) has suggested that the methods are “hugely ethically controversial” and “‘GATTICA’-like,” and could lead to a “design-your-own-baby DNA test” and “designer babies.”  Another popular genetic genealogy blogger, Roberta Estes, also addressed the patent on her blog earlier this week (“23andMe Patents Technology for Designer Babies”).
23andMe preemptively addressed the patent in their blog the Spittoon (“A 23andMe Patent”), and stated that “[t]he company never pursued the concepts discussed in the patent … Click to read more!