Genetic Genealogy in Newsweek and The Courier-Journal (Kentucky)

Last week there were a couple of other articles in the news about genetic genealogy:

1. – “Shaking the Family Tree with Recreational Genetics.” The article is largely in response to last week’s article in Science (see my previous coverage). There are a number of interesting comments following the Newsweek article – I would recommend browsing through them if you have the time.

2. The Courier-Journal – “DNA Discovery.” The article is mostly about Oxford Ancestors.

Sorenson Genomic’s GeneTree Launches


As I mentioned earlier today, GeneTree has been redesigned, and actually launched this morning. There is a FAQ page, and a new blog. There’s also an extensive Press Room, with logos and screen shots – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

So what is GeneTree? According to the FAQ:

“GeneTree is a family history sharing site created to help people everywhere understand how their personal stories belong within the framework of the greater human genetic story – by discovering their genetic heritage and identity, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and perspective through personal stories, photos, video and documents.”

I’m sure there will be a lot of media coverage today and over the course of the week, but here is an article at Computerworld. Following is the official press release:

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Roots – Chris and Alex Haley’s DNA, and the Launch of JeanTree (

At the 2007 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August, Alex Haley, the nephew of the Chris Haley – the author of “Roots”, joined the many people who have tested their DNA for ancestral information.  It turns out that his Y-DNA is of European origin.

There’s a post at Megan’s Roots World, a news report at, and the video of Alex swabbing his cheeks for DNA from Roots Television:


The article at KUTV also contains what MUST be a mistake:

“Next week, The Sorenson Cos. plans to roll out a separate DNA-based Web site called Chief Executive James L. Sorenson declined to discuss details Tuesday, although it will rely on a larger DNA database.”

Either Sorenson is planning to sell denim-related products, or the journalist misunderstood “”. Stay tuned for further details about the re-launch of this site.

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The Genetic Genealogy Community Responds to Last Week’s Article in Science


Last week I provided an analysis of the article in Science, “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, which examined the benefits and pitfalls of genetic genealogy.

There’s been considerable discussion of the article and the author’s conclusions at the Genealogy-DNA mailing list. One of the most interesting posts was by Kim Tallbear, a long-time member of the list and co-author of the Science article. The post, “Response to Genetic Genealogists From Authors of Oct. 19th Science Article“, is important reading for anyone who is following the development of this story. The following is a quote from Dr. Tallbear’s post:

“We orginally had language in the article that noted the expertise of genetic genealogists such as some of you on this list. (My interactions on this listserv taught me well that there is a good deal of expertise here.) But with space constraints the editors cut that language.)”

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First 60 Minutes, Now Scientific Journals – Genetic Genealogy in Today’s Science

Today’s issue of Science contains a new look into the world of genetic genealogy. “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, examines the benefits and drawbacks of genetic genealogy. Here is a table summary of the researcher’s conclusions:


Table from: “Deep Roots”” at

One interesting fact from the article is that the number of people who have purchased genetic genealogy tests is estimated to be over 460,000! If you would like to read more about this study, there are a number of other sources of information, including a press release from The University of Texas at Austin, where the first author, Deborah A. Bolnick, is assistant professor of anthropology. There is also a feature story at The University of Texas’ website. In this feature story, Dr. Bolnick states:

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DNAPrint and Bioserve – 600,000 Genetic Genealogy Tests

Genome Technology Online mentioned the new partnership between DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. and BioServe, a company that offers “the Global Repository®, a growing library of over 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples linked to detailed clinical and demographic data from 140,000 consented and anonymized patients from four continents.”

As part of the partnership, DNAPrint will analyze the 600,000 human samples in the Global Repository using the ANCESTRYbyDNA test.According to Richard Gabriel, the CEO and President of DNAPrint Genomics:

“By removing the question of ancestry from a clinical sample researchers can more readily evaluate which medicines will produce side effects within certain ethnic groups, and which medicines will work for the widest spectrum of a population.”

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Tim Agazio at Genealogy Reviews Online presents the first post in a series that will review the genetic genealogy testing process at DNAAncestry. In this first installment, Tim discusses the website, the tests offered, and the ease of ordering.

I will actually be doing a similar review in the near future, as I’ve ordered a test from DNAAncestry for my maternal grandfather’s Y-chromosome. Since he unfortunately passed away in 1983, it will be a great opportunity to talk about finding other alternatives, finding other people with the same surname, and joining surname projects – in addition to other questions often asked about genetic genealogy. If there is anything you’d like me to highlight in this process, please leave a comment and I will do my best to address it!

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DNA Direct Now Offers Genetic Genealogy Testing


DNA Direct, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, has just announced the addition of Ancestry and Ethnicity DNA testing to their suite of products.

One of the best things about this offering is the FIND tool. FIND is a way to identify the type of DNA test that best suits the customer’s need(s). Through a series of very simple questions that guide the user step-by-step, the tool helps him or her decide between ethnicity tests, Y-DNA tests, or mtDNA tests. I had fun just playing around with it.

The company also provides information about genetic genealogy, including “How DNA Reveals Ancestry,” “Who’s Using Ancestry & Ethnicity Tests,” and “DNA Testing Resources“, just to name a few. There are some great sources of information listed on the DNA Testing Resources page, and at least one AMAZING resource, if I do say so myself!

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To Sequence or Not to Sequence – That is the Question


An article appearing Sunday at, “Cheap, Detailed Genetic Testing Might Soon Be Ready for Market“, highlights some of the recent developments in DNA sequencing. The article is a response to three studies published yesterday at Nature Methods (available here, here, and here) which reportedly “explore cheap technologies to decipher and analyze individual patients’ DNA by allowing researchers to quickly find the small portions of the human genome that make protein and describe them, while discarding irrelevant data.”

According to the author of the Bloomberg article, “complete” DNA sequencing for as little as $300 could be ready within months. Although it is unclear what the author means by “complete”, it is entirely foreseeable that SNP testing will soon be available for a reasonable price.

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