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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.

... Click to read more!

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Using mtDNA to Suggest Kinship – A Case Example Involving Lucille Ball

Cropped version of :Image:Lucille Ball - YankA...

Image via Wikipedia

There is an article in yesterday’s Greenwich Times entitled “Woman out to prove kinship to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz” about Cassandria Carlson, a woman from Schaumburg, Ill. who believes she is the granddaughter of Lucille Ball.

According to Carlson, her mother was born to Lucille Ball in 1947 and was then put up for adoption “because her very existence would have interfered with Ball’s career.”  Among her evidence, Carlson cites a 1946 newspaper clipping which described Ball as pregnant as well as her mother Madeline Jane Dee’s memories of a red-headed woman named “Mrs. Morton” bringing her to the playground as a child (Ball’s second married was to a Gary Morton).  Unfortunately, Ms. Dee died just a few years ago.

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Gwilym of the Many Conquests and the Smooth-Talking Gene

[PLEASE NOTE:  The Onion is a satirical site meant for ENTERTAINMENT and social commentary purposes only.  The following study is NOT real!]

The Onion, an infamous mock news site has a (surprisingly intelligent) article today entitled “7 Million People Direct Descendants Of Single Smooth-Talking Ancestor” about a “study” that has found that millions of people around the world have a genetic marker that links them to “a single smooth-talking common ancestor.”

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings brings the article to my attention (thank you Randy!):

The headline screams “7 Million People Direct Descendants of Smooth-Talking Ancestor” — see the article here in the Science and Technology section of The Onion. It sounds right up the genetic genealogy alley, doesn’t it? Megan, Blaine, Emily – why haven’t you written about this guy? Are 7 million descendants not enough?

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Ancestry.com’s Genetic Genealogy Webinar

On July 8th, Ancestry.com hosted a webinar called “Genetic Genealogy Made Easy.”  The webinar is now posted and can be accessed at any time.  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.  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.

... Click to read more!

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Genomics Law Report – A New Blog

A new blog called the Genomics Law Report went live today, promising to provide “news and analysis from the intersection of genomics, personalized medicine and the law.”  This blog will undoubtedly be a must for anyone interested in personal genetics.  Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future has already provided a brief summary.

From the introductory post:

“…Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson proudly announces the launch of the Genomics Law Report.  The Genomics Law Report focuses on the legal implications of important developments in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine — including key litigation, legislative, regulatory and policymaking activities — in order to facilitate understanding of the complicated and shifting legal landscape governing genomic and personalized medicine commerce and research.”

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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation to Protect DNA Samples Using Biomatrica’s Room Temperature Storage

From today’s press release:

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.”

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“Can DNA tests help your genealogical inquiries?” in the Asheville Citizen-Times

An article appears in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times (here) about genetic genealogy. Although brief, the article summarizes the sciences behind Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, and focuses on the use of genetic genealogy to explore the “Clark” surname.

With the famous Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings case, folks began to realize that DNA testing techniques could give answers and break down brick walls as never before.  While DNA will never replace standard research and primary documentation, it can be considered a tool to be used hand in hand with standard research.

via citizen-times.com and familybuilder

Posted via web from Blaine Bettinger’s Lifestream

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A Critique of Genetic Ancestry Testing in Science Magazine

Gold StandardFive bioethicists have published a paper in today’s issue of Science – The Illusive Gold Standard in Genetic Ancestry Testing (paid subscription required) – calling for government regulation of genetic ancestry testing (aka genetic genealogy). There is an accompanying press release: Stanford Bioethicist and Colleagues Call for Federal Regulation of Genetic Ancestry Testing (another press release is available here).

Overall Thoughts

I highly respect the work of these authors, and I appreciate their efforts to educate the public about these issues. I do, however, wonder why the article was published in Science. The article mostly rehashes arguments found in a number of other articles (including from a very similar 2007 Science article (link) with some of the same authors) without adding any new research or supporting evidence. This is my greatest criticism of this and related articles – much of the hypothesis rests on anecdotal evidence without any corresponding research for support (such as objective social research with genetic ancestry testing customers).

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Latest Genetic Genealogy Series “Faces of America” Expected From PBS in 2010

http://www.thefoodsection.com/.a/6a00d8341c4ec753ef01157198f61a970b-pi

Via ” Mapping the Mario Batali Genome”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is working on a new four-part genetic genealogy series for PBS called “Faces of America”, expected to air in 2010.  Unlike the previous African American Lives series, the latest work will examine the genetic ancestry of Americans from all walks of life.  From the press release (“THIRTEEN, Kunhardt McGee Productions and Inkwell Films, in Production on New PBS Series, Faces of America“):

Global in scope, Faces of America will look beyond the black experience to explore American identity with guests who are Asian, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Syrian, West Indian, and Native American. Joining Professor Gates in this new series are poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and read the poem at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, chef Mario Batali, comedian and television personality Stephen Colbert, writer Junot Diaz, writer Louise Erdrich, writer Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, cellist Yo Yo Ma, writer and director Mike Nichols, former monarch of Jordan Queen Noor, actress Meryl Streep, and Olympic gold medalist and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

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Ancient Ancestry Finder From Ancestry.com – A Best Guess at Ancient Origin of Your Y-DNA or mtDNA

via blogs.ancestry.com

Ancestry.com DNA offers a Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup predictor – the Ancient Ancestry Finder – based primarily on location of your most distant known paternal or maternal ancestor. From the site:

To give everyone a sampling of these results, with Finder™ we’ve built a simple experience that takes a best guess at describing your ancient ancestors. You answer 2 or 3 questions with the most basic info about your family (facts almost everyone knows). And then we provide a few options for likely ancient ancestral groups, along with descriptions of those groups…The spirit of Finder™ is a bit different from what you may have experienced on our site. It’s part of our effort to introduce ancestry and genealogy to a wider audience.

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