This week in genetic genealogy:
1. An article on the site Seeking Alpha reveals that during fiscal 2012 Ancestry.com has already invested between $10 and $15 million in their new DNA service. That is a huge investment. If they have spent their money right, genetic genealogists may be in for quite a ride.
On Feb 16th, the author's opinion was this, "[T]he company's earnings trajectory has been jeopardized (due to DNA), that growth in the UK will be challenging, and that NBC might not renew Who Do You Think You Are for the fourth season next year. Overall, we think management can do better." Hopefully, we won't all be feeling the same way when their new DNA product finally launches.
Since the latest episode of WDYTYA featuring Reba McEntyre had a huge jump in ratings with a "stellar 7.5 Million viewers", the stock review site has now revised their opinion and rates Ancestry.com "a buy", apparently regardless of their huge investment in DNA. The analyst writes, "[T]here appears to be a strong and growing interest with people wanting to know more about their ancestry. Consequently, Ancestry.com, Inc. appears poised for continued above-average growth in the future." Let's hope the analyst knows what s/he is talking about!
2. This week the international media has been reporting that Oetzi The Ice Man's full genome has now been sequenced. Judging by the paper in Nature Communications, this must have actually happened some time ago. [I was under the impression that this was old news because I watched a program on NatGeo that discussed these very details last year. I believe it was in November 2011.] Regardless, Oetzi has been getting lots of press this week with his particulars being publicized far and wide, "...the Iceman probably had brown eyes, belonged to blood group O and was lactose intolerant. His genetic predisposition shows an increased risk for coronary heart disease."
3. Last Monday, 23andMe commemorated Rare Disease Day by campaigning to increase the enrollment in their studies on myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and sarcoma (with free kits offered to those suffering from these diseases). By Friday they announced that they had reached their goal of 500 for MPN and were "just a few participants shy of 800 for Sarcoma".
4. Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will premiere on March 25 and run Sundays through May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS. This 10-part series will be similar to NBC's hit "Who Do You Think You Are?", with Gates investigating the family trees of his celebrity guests (Kevin Bacon, Robert Downey, Jr., Brandford Marsalis, John Legend, Martha Stewart and Barbara Walters are a few). The great news is that it appears that there will be more of a focus on genetic genealogy than on WDYTYA. The Spittoon notes "Gates uses history and science, including 23andMe’s ancestry tools, to explore race, family and identity in each episode." Especially exciting, two of the scientists from 23andMe will assist Gates and his guests in discovering their genetic roots.
I very much enjoyed Gates' last series "Faces of America" and am really looking forward to this new series.