In the past week there have been so many articles and posts about either genetic genealogy or DTC genetics that Iâ€™m writing them up as a summary post rather than individually.
The New York Times Tackles DTC Genetic Testing
An article in yesterdayâ€™s New York Times by Jane E. Brody â€“ â€œBuyer Beware of Home DNA Testsâ€ â€“ 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: â€œSeven Reasons Why Home DNA Tests Are Hypeâ€).Â The author even lumps in genetic genealogy (which has been around for over 9 years now, hardly a â€œnew industryâ€ that has sprung up â€œto cash inâ€ on new science):
The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a searchable database created from the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which contains the name and social security number of deceased persons reported to the Social Security Administration since roughly 1962.Â In addition to being used by genealogists, the Death Master File and SSDI are used by financial firms and government agencies for various reasons such as preventing identity fraud.
As part of her doctoral research, Sudeepa Abeysinghe is asking people who have purchased genomic tests to complete the â€œUser Experiences of Direct-to-Consumer Genomic Testing Surveyâ€.Â According to Sudeepa, the survey focuses on the consumer experience and is completely independent of any testing company.
Although Iâ€™m late on reporting this (it was already covered by GenomeWeb, for example), I thought I would mention it in case anyone has missed the previous coverage and might be interested in completing the survey.
This is an opportunity for genetic genealogists to share their experiences and voice their thoughts regarding DTC genomic testing.
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).Â The Genomics Law Report analyzes the paperâ€™s arguments and concludes with the following:
â€œWithout 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.â€
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 â€“ this change ONLY represents a change in how results are REPORTED.Â Even though companies report results differently, this does not mean that the actual DNA testing results are wrong or different!Â This shift is NOT to correct errors in testing results; it is only to standardize reporting.
The Evansville Courier & Press has a great article â€“ â€œAt 97, life is worth a big fuss: Six generations gathered at matriach’s birthday partyâ€ â€“ which contains a picture of six generations of the Moore Family of Indiana.Â The picture shows a newborn and 5 generations of her ancestors; her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandfather, and great-great-great-grandmother!Â It is truly amazing and I highly recommend clicking over to the article to see it.
My Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s Father’s Mother (whew!)
The picture led me to wonder who was my motherâ€™s motherâ€™s motherâ€™s fatherâ€™s mother (following the same lineage in the articleâ€™s picture), and whether I ever met her.Â After consulting my family tree software (maybe I could have done it from memory, but I thought Iâ€™d save some time!), I discovered that her name was Jemima Cooper.Â I never had the opportunity to meet Jemima because she died 53 years before my birth.Â She would be 118 years old today.
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.Â After receiving the results which showed European origin (Haplogroup R1b), the results sat in the database for 18 months before a match was found.Â 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.Â From the article:
Thomas [Baff, the individual that Haley tried to contact] turned out to be June Baff Black, Thomasâ€™s daughter, who responded (she was thrilled!). Juneâ€™s parents had researched the family back in the 1980s; Juneâ€™s own involvement had started while watching an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Sheâ€™d been fascinated by Colin Jacksonâ€™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.
“I must admit that I have always been a bit embarrassed to admit that I cannot prove the origins of my own surname. I have been researching my family tree for more than thirty years and have found most of my ancestors back into the 1700s with quite a few families traced even further back. Yet there has always been one glaring exception: the origins of my EASTMAN ancestors.”
So begins this interesting article by Dick Eastman (of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter fame). Dick had researched the brick wall in his paternal line for years without much luck, but recently peered through the brick wall with the help of genetic genealogy.Â The answer to his mystery was hiding in every cell of his body.
After learning of Dick’s brick wall, Katherine Hope Borges of ISOGG volunteered to start the Eastman DNA Project to help him and others learn more about the surname. Through that project, Dick learned that he is related to “the others who are known descendants of Roger Eastman, the 1638 immigrant.” Although the exact line of descent is unclear, he is now able to focus his research to save both time and money.