1

Dick Eastman Uses DNA To Prove His Family Tree Connection

“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.  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.

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GeoGene Goes Out of Business

I just received word that the genetic ancestry testing company Geogene has gone out of business. From the website:

1 OCTOBER 2008: We are very sorry to announce that, due to ongoing technical issues and increasing competition from National Geographic’s similar ‘Genographic Project’, GeoGene is unable to continue trading. If you are interested in finding out about your genetic ancestry, we recommend you use National Genographic’s service instead.

Posted via web from Blaine Bettinger’s Lifestream

3

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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13

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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2

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.

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2

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

9

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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