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Thank You: The Genetic Genealogist Named Among Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Late last fall, Family Tree Magazine requested nominations for the best genealogy blogs, and then opened voting for the nominated list.  Yesterday, they announced the winners of the voting.  Diane Haddad wrote about the announcement on the Genealogy Insider blog, and Maureen Taylor wrote the article that will appear in the May issue of Family Tree Magazine: “Fab Forty.”

I am very pleased and honored to announce that TGG was selected as one of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs, in the category of genetic genealogy. I would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted for me.  I have been very fortunate over the last few years to interact with a fascinating array of readers, and I am thankful for every one of them.

When I started blogging in February 2007 (I just recently counted my third anniversary of TGG!), there were very few blogs in the genetic genealogy space.  Today there are a number of interesting and well-written genetic genealogy blogs.  See my recent round-up at “10 Great Blogs for Genetic Genealogists.“  Each of these blogs is well worth adding to your reading list.

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Announcing the GET Conference 2010

get-genomes-environments-traits_1266501683140

Daniel Vorhaus of the Genomics Law Report is also a member of the steering committee of the GET (“Genomes, Environments, Traits) Conference 2010.This unique conference, to be held on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 will gather together some of the biggest names in personal genomics, as well as most of the limited number of the people who have released their entire genomes to the public.Tickets for the conference go on sale today here.

As part of the GET Conference 2010, the new BioWeatherMap initiative will officially launch.According to the project’s website, BioWeatherMap is “a global, grassroots, distributed environmental sensing effort aimed at answering some very basic questions about the geographic and temporal distribution patterns of microbial life. Utilizing the power of high-throughput, low cost DNA sequencing and harnessing the drive of an enlightened public we propose a new collaborative research approach aimed at generating a steady stream of environmental samples from many geographic locations to produce high quality data for ongoing discovery and surveillance.”

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Columbia Professor Alondra Nelson Reviews The PBS Series “Faces of America”

Faces of America

In October 2008, I reviewed an article by Dr. Alondra Nelson in the journal Social Studies of Science entitled “Bio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestry” (Social Studies of Science 2008 38: 759-783).  The article was about the complex interpretation of the results of genetic genealogy testing by African-Americans and black British.  Dr. Nelson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in NY.

On Friday, an article by Dr. Nelson appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Henry Louis Gates’s Extended Family,” which is an introduction and review of the current PBS documentary miniseries Faces of America. Regarding the genetic testing aspect of the show, Nelson writes:

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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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The Future of Genetic Genealogy – Tracing DNA To Individual Ancestors

I once told someone that in addition to learning about their ancient origins (such as Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups), many genetic genealogists would ideally like to match every portion of their DNA with the contributing ancestor.  Although this might seem to be beyond the reach of current genetic ancestry testing, it has actually already begun.  The family compare function of 23andMe, for example, is already being used by genetic genealogists for just this purpose; people who have matching DNA segments can compare ancestry and attempt to identify the ancestor who might have contributed the DNA.

For obvious reasons, medical geneticists have for many years been using genealogy to trace founder mutations in populations.  For example, in 2008 scientists traced a colon cancer gene in the United States to a Mr. and Mrs. George Fry who arrived in the New World around 1630 (see A Single Colon Cancer Gene Traced to 1630).

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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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The Genomics Law Report Addresses the ACCP’s Call for Regulation of DTC Genetic Tests

Another great article from the Genomics Law Report (if you aren’t already reading this new blog, you should be) – “Is the ACCP’s Call for Greater Governmental Regulation of DTC Genetics Premature?”

Barbara Ameer and Norberto Krivoy of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) have an article (pdf) in The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that promotes regulation of DTC genetic tests (which could conceivably include genetic genealogy tests).  The Genomics Law Report analyzes the paper’s arguments and concludes with the following:

“Without convincing evidence of the harms of DTC genetic testing, it remains difficult to fully justify more rigorous governmental regulation, or to anticipate its content, structure or ultimate effect, which perhaps explains why such regulation continues to remain just over the horizon.”

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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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Using DNA to Explore the Scottish Roots of the Haley Family

Ancestry Magazine has a new article by Megan Smolenyak about the use of Y-DNA testing to examine the origins of the Haley maternal line.

Chris Haley, nephew of Roots author Alex Haley, underwent Y-DNA testing.  After receiving the results which showed European origin (Haplogroup R1b), the results sat in the database for 18 months before a match was found.  Many of us have similar experience; our results are recorded and available but are waiting for the day we find a match.

Haley was lucky, however, and he was soon in contact with the family.  From the article:

Thomas [Baff, the individual that Haley tried to contact] turned out to be June Baff Black, Thomas’s daughter, who responded (she was thrilled!). June’s parents had researched the family back in the 1980s; June’s own involvement had started while watching an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? She’d been fascinated by Colin Jackson’s DNA test, ordered a test for her father, her Y-DNA stand-in, and mailed if off only a few weeks before hearing back from Chris.

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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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