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Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

This weekend I had the privilege to review an advance copy of “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA,” a new book by author and genetic genealogist Richard Hill.  The book is currently available at Amazon only in paperback (link here: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA), although eBook versions will be available soon.

Many genetic genealogists are already familiar with Richard Hill and his website DNA-Testing-Adviser.com, where he shares information about using genetic genealogy to learn about your family, especially for adoptees and birth parents.  You may also be familiar with Mr. Hill through the front-page 2009 Wall Street Journal article detailing his search for his family, or from the 2009 article in the Grand Rapids Press (“Rockford man uses DNA testing, Internet searches to find his birth father“).

Finding Family

Mr. Hill’s fascinating new … Click to read more!

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The Genographic Project Announces Geno 2.0

Today, The Genographic Project officially announced the launch of their new Geno 2.0 project, a significant update to the type and quantity of genetic information that will be collected and analyzed by The Genographic Project.  The new project will use an entirely new SNP chip (the GenoChip) designed specifically for Geno 2.0 in order to provide the world’s most detailed information about Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups (using SNP information) as well as detailed biogeographical estimates and ancient population (Denisovan and Neanderthal) estimates.

As of today you can pre-order a Geno 2.0 kit, which is expected to ship no later than October 30th (although you can probably expect it earlier than that).

Once again Family Tree DNA will perform all the testing, and The Genographic Project has worked very closely with FTDNA to design, troubleshoot, and use the … Click to read more!

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Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?


I’ve received a number of emails and comments (see, e.g., here) complaining about Ancestry.com’s new test, AncestryDNA.  Specifically, several test-takers believe that the Genetic Ethnicity Prediction provided by Ancestry.com does not reflect the numbers that they expected based on their own research.
For example:

“I just got my DNA test results back from Ancestry.com and I am concerned. I was born in England and I have gone back many generations and have found that all my ancestors as far back as the 1600′s in most cases are English.  According to the results I have no British Isles DNA. It states that I have 60% Central Europe, 30% Scandinavian and 7% Southern Europe. I also have 3% unknown. How can this be?”

“Just received my results: 21% Southern European and 79% Central European which doesn’t follow years of work on my family history.”

Do these comments reflect errors in AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction, or are there other factors at play?

Caveats

Although I am not privy to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ at Ancestry.com, I don’t believe that there are serious issues with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction.  Ancestry.com’s DNA arm has a solid scientific team and a large and valuable reference database.

Indeed, Ancestry.com is well aware of the limitations and challenges that their Genetic Ethnicity … Click to read more!

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GEDmatch.com Adds Phasing Tool

Today (or perhaps yesterday?) popular DIY genomics website GEDmatch.com released a new tool for phasing DNA data.  Listed under a link entitled “Generate phased data file,” the tool allows users of the GEDmatch.com site to phase their chromosomes if they have their parent’s raw data.

(A similar tool was previously created by David Pike at http://www.math.mun.ca/~dapike/FF23utils/; with David’s tool, users receive their results directly and do not need to upload their DNA test results; accordingly, users have a variety of options depending on their privacy tolerance).

What the Heck is “Phasing”?

Currently, SNP chip testing performed by 23andMe or Family Tree DNA is unable to attribute a test result to either one of your parents.  For example, if your results for SNP rs00000 are “AG,” the test alone cannot determine whether … Click to read more!

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The Genetic Genealogist Listed Among Top 50 Genealogy Blogs by Inside History Magazine

I just discovered today that The Genetic Genealogist was recently included in a list of 50 top genealogy blogs by Inside History Magazine.
Inside History Magazine is a periodical “for people passionate about Australian and New Zealand genealogy, history and heritage.”  The current May-June 2012 issue has an article entitled “Entering the Blogsphere” in which author Jill Ball (of Geniaus) writes about the prevalence of genealogy bloggers.  As part of the article, she compiled a list of 50 blogs that “every genealogist needs to follow.”
I’m honored that The Genetic Genealogist was included in this list, especially considering the others blogs, many of which I’ve been reading for years!
Be sure to check out Inside History Magazine and the many terrific blogs listed in the article.  Also, Jill just included a nice … Click to read more!

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AncestryDNA Officially Launches

I’ve written about Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA product, AncestryDNA, a number of times (see my review of the product at Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product ).

Today, Ancestry.com announced the official release of AncestryDNA (see press release below).  It is initially available only to Ancestry.com subscribers, at a cost of $99.

The launch page is here.

Press Release:

Ancestry.com Launches new AncestryDNA Service: The Next Generation of DNA Science Poised to Enrich Family History Research

Affordable DNA Test Combines Depth of Ancestry.com Family History Database with An Extensive Collection of DNA Samples to Open New Doors to Family Discovery

Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM), today announced the launch of its highly anticipated AncestryDNA™ service, a new affordable DNA test that enables purchasers of the DNA test and subscribers of Ancestry.com to combine new state-of-the-art DNA science with the … Click to read more!

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Genetic Genealogy and Personal Genomics in the Classroom – Part I

Today begins the first in a series of articles about the use of genetic genealogy and personal genomics in the classroom, ranging from high school to college-level.
Many scientists and health care experts believe that genetics will be a vital component to several facets of our lives in the future, especially in the field of medicine.  Indeed, some consider the study of genetics to be one of the most promising solutions to many of the health dilemmas facing society today, including advancing our understanding of interactions between genetics and the environment.  Accordingly, today’s students should have at least a basic grasp of genetics, and science educators must find innovative ways to share those concepts with their students.
A Need for Genetics Education
Unfortunately, some studies suggest that many of … Click to read more!

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A Review of AncestryDNA – Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Test


In the past, I’ve reviewed new autosomal DNA testing options offered by 23andMe and Family Tree DNA:

Today, I’m reviewing the new autosomal DNA test from Ancestry.com called “AncestryDNA.” I’ve already written at length about AncestryDNA, so I won’t cover too many of the basics here.  I have an in-depth introduction to the product located at “Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product,” which you might want to check out before or after reading this review in order to gather more information.

AncestryDNA: An Introduction

The introduction page, which appears after clicking on “View Results” on the front page, consists of my Genetic Ethnicity Summary and the Member DNA Matches (which is further broken into close cousins and distant cousins, as discussed in detail below).  Please note that for purposes of this review I’ve removed the identifying … Click to read more!

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Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product

I’ve written before about Ancestry.com’s new AncestryDNA autosomal test.  See, for example:

Webinar with Ancestry.com

Last week, I participated in a webinar with Ancestry.com regarding the AncestryDNA test (although, unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early due to a previous engagement).  It was a great list of about 10 well-known genealogy bloggers, each one of whom is someone I’ve been reading or following for years.  It was an honor to be included among them.

One of the participants was CeCe Moore of Your Genetic Genealogist.  CeCe has a nice summary of the webinar and the important points about the autosomal test and the user interface at “New Information on Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product.”  If you’re interested in autosomal DNA testing, or in Ancestry.com, I highly … Click to read more!

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Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” is a new series from Henry Louis Gates Jr., who previously brought us series such as Faces of America, African American Lives, and African American Lives 2.  The show, which airs on PBS stations on Sunday nights, premieres March 25th, 2012 with singer/actor Harry Connick, Jr.

Last week I participated in a conference call with members of the show, including Senior Story Editor and Producer Leslie Asako Gladsjo and Chief Genealogist Johni Cerny.  Also on the call, although only able to participate for a few minutes, was Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Here are some interesting tidbits about Finding Your Roots – and genealogy in general – that I learned from the conversation:

  • Gates believes that genetic genealogy is deconstructing the notion of race; never has FTDNA or 23andMe returned an African American’s testing results and reported 100% African, for example.  In other words, science is demonstrating that things are much more complicated than we would have guessed without the benefit of DNA.
  • All guests on Finding Your Roots used both 23andMe and FTDNA for DNA testing – all African Americans participating in the series also used African Ancestry.  While the guests receive all their results, we may not always see them.
  • Many are still wary of genetic genealogy; many potential guests even turned down the series largely because of the DNA testing involved.
  • Gladsjo and Cerny noted that DNA is just another tool for the genealogist; sometimes the guests’ DNA results were very interesting, and sometimes they were “pretty boring.”

I hope you’ll be tuning in tomorrow to see Finding Your Roots.  I have a feeling … Click to read more!