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Autosomal Genetic Testing


 
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Yesterday I posted a link to an article in the UK Guardian, “The genes that build America” in which the author attempted to summarize some of the recent controversial topics in genealogical research, including DNA testing.

For at least one of my readers, the article represented everything that is wrong with DNA testing, specifically the assignment of racial/ethnic percentages based on the results of autosomal testing.

In the past, I’ve tried to be as impartial as possible when discussing autosomal testing. As I’ve learned, however, being impartial can also be unfair and misleading. So, I’ve decided to get a little more personal and share my thoughts about autosomal testing.

In a single sentence, autosomal testing is simply too new and underdeveloped to be … Click to read more!

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Genetic Genealogy in the Observer


The Observer has an article, “The genes that build America” which is a summary of every popular genetic genealogy new story to appear in the past year. From the story header:

“From the discovery that presidential hopeful Barack Obama is descended from white slave owners to the realisation that the majority of black Americans have European ancestors, a boom in ‘recreational genetics’ is forcing America to redefine its roots. Paul Harris pieces together the DNA jigsaw of what it really means to be born in the USA.”

Thanks to Hsien at … Click to read more!

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Should Genes be Patentable?

Hsien at EyeonDNA has a great post about patenting genes, including a poll and a discussion in the comments.

Dr. Lei links to a recent symposium on the topic at the Genetics & Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins and mentions legislation proposed in February 2007 that would ban the patenting of human genetic material.

I think it would be great if you stopped by and voted, or left your thoughts in the comments. This is a very controversial topic, and it would be very interesting to see how others feel about it! … Click to read more!

Genetic Genealogy in Brazil

The BBC has an article about genetic genealogy testing of nine celebrities in Brazil for a project called Afro-Brazilian Roots by the Brazilian Service of the BBC. These lucky individuals received Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal testing, and most were surprised with the large proportion of European genealogy revealed by the tests.

“Brazil has more people with black ancestry than any other nation outside Africa, and its mix of Indians, Africans and Europeans gave rise in the past to the claim that the country was a ‘racial democracy.’ ”

“No one is pure in Brazil. That’s why the country has the face of the future,” said Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., coordinator of a similar project in the U.S.”

Thanks to Tim at … Click to read more!

Wireless Healthcare

Wireless Healthcare, a company based in England, recently released a report entitled “Wireless Based Disease Management: Google, Microsoft and IBM in the Healthcare Market.” Naturally, I can’t read this report because it costs almost $400 USD. I noticed it, however, because it addresses the impact of online availability of genomic/genetic testing results. Specifically, the report addresses (at least I believe it does!) the advisability of online advertising displayed alongside health care records.

According to news releases and a blog post:

“Wireless Healthcare forecast patients gaining access to their genetic profile and managing their health using an online patient record, but they expressed doubts about the efficacy of banner advertisements as revenue model for companies that offer such services.”

“We are seeing the emergence of a new ehealth model that challenges some of the assumptions made by existing online healthcare providers and medical device manufacturers,” said Peter Kruger, an analyst with Wireless Healthcare, explained. “This new model impacts not only on how diseases are diagnosed but also the way healthcare is delivered and ehealth services are funded.”

“Kruger is sceptical as to whether the advertising on personal health records will be readily accepted by patients and regulators. “Advertising and healthcare do not mix well and this issue is already proving to be controversial,” said Kruger. “I am sure that regulators would be unhappy if banner advertisements started to appear on a patient’s online medical record or diagnosis.”

Interestingly, one report stated the following:

“Wireless Healthcare believes that Google’s recent investment in the 23andMe (a Genetic profiling company) and Microsoft’s recent purchase of Medstory (an intelligent medical search company) could be leading to the emergence of services that are highly disruptive within the healthcare market.”

It is inevitable that people will be able to access their genetic profile and manage their own health accordingly. Undoubtedly, some or most of this access will be online without the supervision of a medical specialist (even if there were supervision, the … Click to read more!

James Sorenson, Founder of Sorenson Genomics

There’s a great article in last week’s USA Today about James Sorenson, the billionaire founder of Sorenson Genomics.  It’s a great read, full of information about this interesting visionary.

The only thing I didn’t like was the picture of Mr. Sorenson touching the human femur being tested in the forensic DNA lab – the scientist in me grimaced at the potential contamination!

(Thanks to Hsien for the link!) … Click to read more!

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DNA IS a Big Deal


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Last Thursday, Michael Neill, a noted genealogist and author of rootdig.com, posted an article entitled “Is DNA That Big of a Deal?”
Mr. Neill, who states that he is “tired of all they hype” writes:
“While I admit there are times where DNA analysis can be helpful, in the vast majority of cases DNA does not provide the type of relationship precision we need. Knowing that two people are related “somehow” “somewhere” “an unknown number of generations back” is typically not the kind of information genealogists need.”
He also believes that instead of spending money and effort on genetic genealogy, researchers should be digitizing and preserving records.
I agree with much of what Mr. Neill says – DNA doesn’t always work, DNA isn’t … Click to read more!

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“Genetic Genealogy and the Ancestries of African Americans” at the U of C


On June 28, the University of Chicago’s Newberry Library presented a panel discussion entitled “Genetic Genealogy and the Ancestries of African Americans” with Rick Kittles. In addition to being an associate professor of medicine at the University, Mr. Kittles is also the science director of AfricanAncestry.com.
The panel also included Christopher Rabb, a genealogist. The two discussed the difficulties facing African Americans who are interested in discovering their roots. After exhausting paper records, Mr. Rabb used DNA testing to learn more about his paternal and maternal lineages.
Despite the successes of genetic genealogy, “[b]oth Rabb and Kittles recognized that genetic testing for ancestry complicates the history and social reality of race in the United States,” noting that 30% of African Americans descend … Click to read more!