Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don't Miss My Behind-the-Scenes Article Series Published on the PBS "Finding Your Roots" Website

Credits from Season Two of "Finding Your Roots"

I haven't been blogging a lot lately due to my heavy workload, but I wanted to let my readers know that I am in the middle of writing a series of articles for the official PBS "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." website in conjunction with the airing of season two of the series. Since it is impossible to detail all of the research done for each of the guests in the actual episodes, I am providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of the genetic genealogy research - providing explanations about what does air and sharing research that did not make it into the final version of the show. Never did I imagine that I would be working on the show and writing for the PBS website when I wrote my series in 2012 analyzing the DNA research used in season one of "Finding Your Roots".



Below I have listed the articles that have been published so far:

Intro to the Season
DNA 101: The Secret's in the Science
"For me, working on this series is a dream job, and it presents a wonderful opportunity to showcase the potential of genetic genealogy to viewers. Over the next ten weeks, I look forward to giving you a glimpse behind the scenes.

Our ancestors’ stories come down to us in many ways – through historical records, oral history passed through our families and in each cell that makes us who we are. The research team at “Finding Your Roots” relies on all of these to investigate the family histories of our guests. Throughout production, family members are interviewed, genealogical records are intensively searched and DNA is thoroughly analyzed."

Read more...
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/blog/dna-101-dispatches-finding-roots-lab/

Behind the scenes of Episode One
Finding Fathers: Decoding the Y-Chromosome
"For last week’s episode, we researched the family trees of three people who yearned to know more about their paternal ancestry – Courtney B. Vance, Stephen King and Gloria Reuben. As a genetic genealogist, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear that there are paternal mysteries to unravel is that Y-chromosome DNA testing is a must."

Read more...
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/blog/finding-fathers-decoding-y-chromosome/

Behind the scenes of Episode Two
Autosomal DNA: Hints from Our Ancestors
"Last week’s episode featuring Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King and Rebecca Lobo concluded with a short vignette about each of their DNA. Cumulatively this 6-minute piece represented many hours of research and necessarily simplified the process that led us to the conclusions presented. As promised, I will share details of some of the genetic genealogy work done behind the scenes."

Read more...
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/blog/breaking-autosomal-dna/

Behind the scenes of Episode Three
Telling Stories with Autosomal DNA
"For last week’s episode, the 'Finding Your Roots' team researched the families of three storytellers, Anna Deavere Smith, Anderson Cooper and Ken Burns. For all three there were questions that traditional genealogical research could not answer, so we turned to autosomal DNA to see if it had its own stories to tell."

Read more...
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/blog/telling-stories-autosomal-dna/

Don't miss tonight's episode airing on PBS with Ben Affleck, Khandi Alexander and Ben Jealous. If you missed any of the previous episodes, they can be viewed here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Videos from the I4GG Conference Are Now Available


The videos are now available from the Institute for Genetic Genealogy's 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference held last month in Washington D.C. The links have been emailed to all attendees and are available for sale to those of you who were not able to attend the event. Access to the videos may be purchased here.  

We are offering the entire package of 27 presentations for $50 and individual videos for $4. We have kept the cost low so as many people can benefit from the wonderfully educational presentations that were given there as possible. We are continuing as a not-for-profit effort and the proceeds from the sales will be shared with the speakers and used to cover remaining expenses from the conference. 

We used professional video and audio equipment in the main auditorium, so the videos that were shot in the Aiton Auditorium are of higher quality than the videos that were shot in the Ohio Room. All presentations were videotaped except those of Spencer Well and Angie Bush. We did videotape Jim Bartlett's presentation, but unfortunately the video card that held that presentation was faulty and we were unable to recover the recording. Fortunately, much of the material that Jim covered in his presentation was also included in his portion of the Family Tree DNA workshop video, so if you are interested in seeing his excellent presentation on autosomal DNA, then please see that video. (Note: The videos can be watched in HD by adjusting the settings on YouTube, which improves the quality.)
 
We would appreciate it if the community members would not share the links to the videos with others who did not attend the conference or purchase access because doing so will deprive the speakers of additional revenue from the sale of the videos that they would otherwise be receiving. If those who did not attend the conference ask you for more information about how to gain access to the videos, please refer them to the Institute for Genetic Genealogy website.
 
Tim and I are still discussing options for the next Institute for Genetic Genealogy Conference. We would like to hold the next conference within the next one to two years on the West Coast. We will post more information to the community as soon as we have solidified the date and location of the next conference.  


We are grateful to the speakers and to all of you who helped contribute to the success of this year's conference.

Below is a list of the presentations available for viewing.
Aiton Auditorium (higher quality videos):
Ancestry.com Workshop by Anna Swayne B.S. – Getting the Most from AncestryDNA – (Beginner)
23andMe Workshop by Joanna Mountain Ph.D. and Christine Moschella – Exploring All of 23andMe’s Genealogy Features – (Intermediate)
Family Tree DNA Workshop – Exploring All Family Tree DNA Products by Maurice Gleeson (Y chromosome overview), Jim Bartlett (Family Finder/autosomal DNA), CeCe Moore (mitochondrial DNA overview), and Janine Cloud (other features) – (Intermediate)
Blaine Bettinger Ph.D., J.D. – Using Free Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA – (Intermediate)
Rebekah Canada B.S. – Wanderlust – The Story of the Origins and Travels of mtDNA Haplogroup H through History and Scientific Literature – (Intermediate)
Julie Granka Ph.D. – AncestryDNA matching: large-scale findings and technology breakthroughs – (Intermediate)
William E. Howard III, Ph.D. – Using Correlation Techniques on Y-Chromosome Haplotypes to Determine TMRCAs, Date STR Marker Strings, Surname Groups, Haplogroups and SNPs – (Advanced)
Tim Janzen M.D. – Using Chromosome Mapping to Help Trace Your Family Tree – (Advanced)

Razib Kahn B.S. – Tearing the Seamless Fabric, Ancestry as a Jigsaw Puzzle – (Intermediate)

Thomas Krahn Dipl.-Ing. – I’ve Received My Y Chromosome Sequencing Results – What Now? – (Advanced)


CeCe Moore – The Four Types of DNA Used in Genetic Genealogy – (Beginner/Intermediate)


Joanna Mountain Ph.D. – 23andMe Features – (Intermediate)
Ugo Perego Ph.D. – Native American Ancestry through DNA Analysis – (Intermediate)


Judy Russell J.D. – After the Courthouse Burns: Lighting Research Fires with DNA – (Intermediate)


Larry Vick M.S. – Using Y-DNA to Reconstruct a Patrilineal Tree – (Beginner)


Ohio Room (lower quality videos):


Terry Barton M.B.A. – Surname Project Administration – (Intermediate)


Shannon Christmas M.A. – Identity by Descent: Using DNA to Extend the African-American Pedigree – (Intermediate)

Karin Corbeil B.S., Diane Harman Hoog M.B.A., and Rob Warthen M.S. – Not Just for Adoptees – Methods and Tools for Working with Autosomal DNA from the Team at DNAGedcom.com – (Intermediate)


Katherine Hope Borges – International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) – (Beginner)


William Hurst B.S. – Mitochondrial DNA Focusing on Haplogroup K – (Intermediate)


Kathy Johnston M.D. – From X Segments to Success Stories: The Use of the X Chromosome in Genetic Genealogy – (Advanced)


Maurice Gleeson M.D. – An Irish Approach to Autosomal DNA Matches – (Intermediate)


Greg Magoon Ph.D. – ‘Next-gen’ Y chromosome Sequencing – (Advanced)


Doug McDonald Ph.D. – Understanding Autosomal Biogeographical Ancestry Results – (Advanced)


David Pike Ph.D. – The Use of Phasing in Genetic Genealogy – (Advanced)


Bonnie Schrack B.A. – Y chromosome Haplogroups A and B – (Intermediate)


Debbie Parker Wayne CG – Mitochondrial DNA: Tools and Techniques for Genealogy – (Beginner)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Upcoming Genetic Genealogy Educational Opportunities



My partner in the DNA Detectives, Angie Bush, and I are often asked about educational opportunities for those wanting to understand how to use DNA in their genealogical research, including how to find missing biological family and/or how to become a professional genetic genealogist. There are several upcoming events that one or both of us will be speaking at, and we wanted to let you know about them. Come and visit us and learn more about using DNA in your research and business!

1.  North San Diego County Genealogy Society's Fall Seminar will feature four presentations focused on DNA given by Kathleen Cooper, Jean Moss, Michelle Trostler and me. If you are local to Carlsbad, CA, please join us! (Tim Janzen will also be speaking at our NSDCGS DNA Interest Group meeting in Carlsbad on Oct. 16th.)

2.  October 17th-19th is The Genealogy Event in New York City with a Special DNA Day held on Sunday. Angie and I will both be speaking at the DNA Day, as will our colleague Blaine Bettinger and Bennett Greenspan from Family Tree DNA. This should be a fun and exciting event, and we would love to see you there.

3.  On November 1st, the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists will be holding their annual fall conference in Provo, Utah. There will be a day-long track at this conference covering all aspects of DNA testing for genealogical research taught by Angie and Paul Woodbury. If you are in Utah or nearby, this will be an excellent series of lectures that you should strongly consider attending.

4.  From November 29th to December 6th, Angie will be on a cruise sponsored by Heritage Books teaching about genetic genealogy. Craig Scott, Cyndi Ingle, Mark Lowe, and Bill Litchman will also be joining her lecturing on subjects in their areas of expertise. There will be many opportunities for individual consultation and/or small meetings with Angie about your genetic genealogy questions. This is a unique opportunity you dont want to miss!

**If you are a project administrator, please don't miss registration for the Family Tree DNA conference to be held in Houston, Oct. 10-12. (I will be speaking there as well, but on mitochondrial DNA which is unusual for me.) Registration ends soon and must be done through your GAP sign-in. 


Early 2015 events that we will both be speaking at include:

  The Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference held January 8th and 9th in Salt Lake City, Utah. Early bird registration ends November 15th, so register now for best pricing!

  The FGS and RootsTech Conferences held February 11th-14th in Salt Lake City. Early bird pricing ends September 15th!

  The Advanced Genetic Genealogy Course sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy held March 26-28 in Dallas, Texas. This course is specifically designed to address unknown parentage/adoption cases. Seating is limited, so dont wait to sign-up! Register here

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Family Tree DNA's End of Summer Y-DNA Sale

I received this welcome news from Family tree DNA today:

As the season draws to a close, join us for one last celebration with our End of Summer Y-DNA Sale! Customers can order a Y-DNA test and join the world's largest Y-DNA database today.  All Y-DNA tests and upgrades have been marked down for significant savings!

Time is limited.  The sale ends 9/3/2014.


As an added bonus, Big Y is also on sale for just $495.  Big Y coupons acquired during the Father's Day Sale can be used on Big Y orders placed during the End of Summer Sale.  With Big Y, 340,000 years of Y-DNA ancestry is just a test away!

Order here.
Standard TestsRegular PriceSale Price
Y-37$169$129
Y-67$268$199
Y-111$367$279
Big Y$595$495

UpgradesRegular PriceSale Price
Y-12 -> Y-37$99$70
Y-12 -> Y-67$189$148
Y-12 -> Y-111$339$239
Y-25 -> Y-37$49$35
Y-25 -> Y-67$148$114
Y-25 -> Y-111$249$209
Y-37 -> Y-67$99$79
Y-37 -> Y-111$220$179
Y-67 -> Y-111$129$109

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is Ancestry.com Getting Into the Health Business?

The following is a guest post by Angie Bush, my partner in The DNA Detectives:

Today, I received in my email inbox a questionnaire from Ancestry.com asking about my thoughts in using my family tree to study family health history. I recently wrote an article that touched on the use of genealogical data in conjunction with genetic studies for the APG Quarterly. In this article, I talked about how the Utah Population database was started as the result of a joint collaboration between the LDS Church and scientists at the University of Utah. This database is unique in that it links detailed family history information with genetic data to allow scientists to study the inheritance of many diseases. Many significant genetic discoveries have been made as a result of this database, including the famous (or infamous) BRCA1 and 2 genes. It is a significant resource for those interested in studying the inheritance of genetic disease. More about the Utah Population Database and the role of genealogical information can be found here: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/science/utah/

Just as in genealogical research, DNA is of little value without a paper trail. Significant value and power lies in combining detailed family health histories with genetic data. In my opinion, 23andMe has missed a significant opportunity to link family histories with genetic data and make ground-breaking discoveries. From this survey, it appears that Ancestry.com/AncestryDNA recognizes the value of this information and that they may be considering getting into the business of supplying their customers with heath related information the way 23andMe did prior to November 2013. It would appear that they are constructing a database very similar to the Utah Population Database with SNP data generated from the Illumina Chip they currently use. 


I have a few questions about this:
  • Will AncestryDNA now be subject to the same FDA guidelines that are currently prohibiting health information from 23andMe, and if so, will Ancestry join the effort with 23andMe to allow this type of information to be provided to consumers? 
  • Or, will they ride 23andMe's coat-tails into the health side of the personal genomics market? Will Ancestry re-sell this data to large pharmaceutical companies?
  • How can we participate in this research, and should we as customers be participating?

There are many other questions I could ask, and in the end, I do believe that health care needs a serious overhaul and the revolution that Anne Wojcicki started with 23andMe cannot be stopped now. I believe one of the best ways to revolutionize health care is to understand what our individual genetic code is telling us about future disease risk, how to manage that risk and prevent disease if possible. It appears from the questions on the Ancestry survey, that they recognize the power of this information as well, and that they plan to move into the space currently occupied only by 23andMe.

 Screen shots of the email and survey follow:














Thanks to Angie for sharing this update and important information with my readers!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Countdown to the I4GG International Genetic Genealogy Conference 2014

A quick reminder about the upcoming i4gg.org conference 

(a not-for-profit event).


This is truly a unique opportunity to personally meet with - and learn from - some of the world's leading Genetic Genealogy experts who, for the first time ever, will appear under ONE roof at the first International Genetic Genealogy Conference scheduled for Friday, August 15th through August 17th.

MEET THESE WORLD RENOWNED GENETIC GENEALOGY EXPERTS:

Dr. Spencer Wells - The Genographic Project (keynote)
Joanna Mountain - 23andMe
Julie Granka - AncestryDNA
Razib Khan for Family Tree DNA
Judy Russell
David Pike
CeCe Moore
Maurice Gleeson
Tim Janzen
Jim Bartlett
Terry Barton
Blaine Bettinger
Angie Bush
Rebekah Canada
Shannon Christmas
Karin Corbeil
Diane Herman Hoog
Katherine Hope Borges
Bill Hurst
Kathy Johnston
Thomas Krahn
Greg Magoon
Doug McDonald
Ugo Perego
Bonnie Schrack
Larry Vick
Rob Warthen
Debbie Parker Wayne
William Howard

 

The fabulous Judy Russell, Julie Granka, Greg Magoon, William Howard and Razib Khan were all added to the schedule since I last wrote about the conference.

 

 Take a minute to check out this video for a quick overview:



 
There is something for everyone - all levels of experience are encouraged to attend. Expert or novice - you'll take away a world of knowledge from the i4gg.org International Genetic Genealogy Conference August 15-17 at the National Youth Conference Center in Washington DC!

Don't miss this opportunity to learn from the best! Go to i4gg.org and register today - there are still tickets available. 

Sponsored by the Institute for Genetic Genealogy. THIS IS A NOT-FOR-PROFIT EVENT for the advancement of genetic genealogy.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ancestry.com Officially Retires Y-DNA and mtDNA Testing

Ancestry.com announced today that they are officially retiring five of their sites and/or products as of September 5, 2014. These include Mundia, Genealogy.com, MyCanvas, MyFamily and, of special interest to my readers, the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests (now being called LegacyDNA). The sales of these tests have been halted, effective immediately.
I don't think the news about the retirement of the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests will come as a big surprise to most of us since Ancestry.com has been focusing their resources on the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test and have been backing away from promoting the direct line tests for some time. As has been noted by many in the genetic genealogy community, it has become increasingly difficult to find the ordering interface for these tests over the last year or more.

I participated in a conference call detailing these changes with bloggers yesterday where we were given an opportunity to ask questions. I asked several about the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, as follows:

Q: Will the entire Y-DNA and mtDNA site interface be retired? Will you be able to view and contact your matches? 
A: The entire interface will be retired, including the match lists and the ability to contact your matches.

My comments: If you have tested there, I strongly encourage you to contact your matches before September 5th (and so does Ancestry.com) because you will not have another opportunity to do so.  You can download your raw data (CSV file) until September 5th by going to www.DNA.Ancestry.com and upload to other services like Family Tree DNA. FTDNA has a transfer program for Y-DNA tests here. For $19 you will be able to upload your results to the FTDNA site. Here is the description of their transfer product:


This option is available for customers who have 33 or 46-marker Y-DNA results from a third party company that used the Sorenson's laboratory (this includes tests performed by Ancestry, GeneTree, and Sorenson's SMGF). You may use this option to upload your results to the Family Tree DNA database. The $19 fee will provide you with a Family Tree DNA personal page which will allow you to:
  • Join Family Tree DNA projects freely, but you will not receive matches or a haplogroup prediction.
  • Your uploaded results will be available to the administrator and included on the project's public page for comparison with other project members.

For an additional $39 you can get a new kit from FTDNA. If you tested 33 markers at Ancestry.com, then you will have the additional markers filled in to be equivalent to FTDNA's 25 marker test or if you tested at the 46 marker level at Ancestry.com, then you will receive 37 marker results from FTDNA with this additional test. At the very least, I encourage you to add your results to the free Ysearch site (note the conversion needed) and Mitosearch site.

Q: Are there any Y-DNA or mtDNA test still in the queue and, if so, will these be completed or refunded?
A: There are a small number of Y-DNA and mtDNA tests still in the queue. If you are one of these, then you will be receiving an email detailing your options. Ancestry.com encourages you to call their customer service to discuss this. 

Q: What will happen to the stored DNA samples associated with these tests?
A: The stored DNA associated with these tests will be destroyed. 

Q: Can the stored DNA be returned to the testers or their families rather than being destroyed?
A: No.

Q:  Can those stored samples be used to upgrade to an autosomal DNA test before they are destroyed?
A: Ancestry.com does not currently have anything in the works for doing this.

An additional question was posed by another blogger regarding whether the halpogroup designations that are populated on testers' Ancestry.com user trees will remain. They are going to get back to us about this. 

For more information about the other four site retirements, please see Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings, Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers and/or the Ancestry.com official blog.