An interesting article about J. Craig Venter, including his new endeavors and his forthcoming book (let’s face it, I can’t wait to read it) at Forbes.com.Â It’s a great read and even has a little controversy – the article is called “Hype in the Genes.”Â I highly recommend checking it out.
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!
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.”
“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.”
Last Thursday, Michael Neill, a noted genealogist and author of rootdig.com, posted an article entitled â€œIs DNA That Big of a Deal?â€
Mr. Neill, who states that he is â€œtired of all they hypeâ€ writes:
â€œWhile 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.â€
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 â€“ DNA doesnâ€™t always work, DNA isnâ€™t for all genealogists, and genealogists MUST help preserve endangered records.But, unfortunately, paper records donâ€™t hold all the answers.Iâ€™ve always believed that genetic genealogy works best when it is combined with traditional genealogical research.Inside each one of my three trillion cells are a few strands of DNA that serve as records of their own â€“ why shouldnâ€™t genealogists get excited when exploring the most personal record theyâ€™ll ever find?
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, â€œ[b]oth Rabb and Kittles recognized that genetic testing for ancestry complicates the history and social reality of race in the United States,â€ noting that 30% of African Americans descend from Europeans.
The Genographic Project is probably the largest genetic genealogy project in the world. For $99, the project will sequence seqments of either your mtDNA or your Y chromosome for addition into their publicly available database. The goal of the project, with ten research centers around the world, is to “map humanity’s genetic journey through the ages,” and to “address anthropological questions on a global scale using genetics as a tool.” There has been a huge response to this project, and they just released their first research paper using the results they have collected to date:
â€œFamily Tree DNA is proud to announce that the first paper resulting from data collected through the Genographic Project has been published today at the PLOS GENETICS.â€œThe Genographic Project Public Participation Mitochondrial DNA Databaseâ€ can be found at http://genetics.plosjournals.org and it will be uploaded to the Family Tree DNA public library as well.
Two companies recently teamed up to offer their services to families with roots in the African Diaspora.Slave Descendants Freedom Society and Diversity Restoration Solutions are bringing a seminar series to 50 cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe titled â€œRestoring African American Families Using Genealogy and History.â€The seminar will focus on topics such as slavery in America, the importance of African American family genealogy as it relates to slavery, and 13 steps to restoring a family with genealogy and history.According to a recent press release:
â€œThis interactive seminar series is a stepping stone in that it seeks to help African Americans find their self identity, understand the benefits of restoring the core family base, and move forward in leveraging resources as a people,â€ said Sheppard, author of â€œAncestorâ€™s Call,â€ a genealogy and historical accounting of the Grandy family and Moses Grandy, an ancestor whose story was originally told in a rare 1843 slave narrative. â€œItâ€™s important that we lay the foundation for generations coming after us; our children and grandchildren need to know who they are in order to receive their inheritance. This seminar honors the contributions of our ancestors but with an emphasis that this recognition should not occur just during Black History Month, but as a way of life, everyday. Participants will come away with a greater understanding of themselves, an action plan for tracing their family tree and hopefully a stronger appreciation for family and desire to pay it forward in their community.â€A pdf brochure is available.
If you missed Ira Flatow’s interview with Megan Smolenyak on NPR’s Science Friday, you can download the podcast in a number of different formats at NPR.Â The interview is the result of this week’s big announcement that Ancestry.com is teaming up with Sorenson Genomics to offer DNA testing.Â Great job Megan!