Ancestry.com Files a Trademark Case Against DNA Diagnostics Center for the Marketing of “AncestryByDNA”

DNA expert CeCe Moore has written about a trademark infringement law suit involving DNA testing that has been filed in the Ohio Southern District Court in Cincinnati. The article may be found in CeCe’s Your Genetic Genealogist blog at http://goo.gl/0MzelE.

DNA Study Helps Solve Abraham Lincoln Lineage Debate

The ancestry of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, has been debated for a long time. While several theories have been published, none of them included convincing proof. Now a new DNA study by group of five researchers working with Family Tree DNA has solved a 150-year-old mystery surrounding the true identity of Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s mother.

23andMe Will Resume Giving Users Health Data

The genetic testing company 23andMe became a Silicon Valley sensation by providing consumers with health and ancestry information based on a sample of their saliva, but suffered a setback when the Food and Drug Administration told it to stop presenting health data in 2013.

Now, after nearly two years, 23andMe is announcing on Wednesday that it will begin providing customers with health information again, though much less than before and with F.D.A. approval. It is also is raising the price of its service to $199, from $99.

Details may be found at http://goo.gl/8aY8wG.

National Geographic Geno 2.0

NationalGeographicGenoNational Geographic’s Geno 2.0 project collects and analyzes DNA from participants in order to provide ancestral information. But Geno 2.0 isn’t about tracing your ancestry over several generations. Instead it traces migration patterns back about 200,000 years ago, to Africa, “the cradle of humanity.” More than 700,000 people have already taken part in National Geographic’s groundbreaking Genographic Project. You can contribute to this real-time scientific effort and also learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

Using a custom-built genotyping chip, the National Geographic Geno 2.0 project claims to test nearly 750,000 DNA markers, many of which have been specifically selected to provide highly detailed ancestry-related information.

For researching your more “recent” ancestors, such as the past 20 generations or so, FamilyTree DNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry DNA probably are better choices. However, the National Geographic Geno project is aimed at finding your ancestors’ migration patterns back 200,000 years. The reports also provide lots of in-depth information and interactive features.

Cops are Asking Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their Customers’ DNA

This news surely will spawn court cases involving privacy and Constitutional provisions regarding self-incrimination. According a story by Kashmir Hill in the Fusion.net web site, “‘Your relative’s DNA could turn you into a suspect,’ warns Wired, writing about a case from earlier this year, in which New Orleans filmmaker Michael Usry became a suspect in an unsolved murder case after cops did a familial genetic search using semen collected in 1996. The cops searched an Ancestry.com database and got a familial match to a saliva sample Usry’s father had given years earlier. Usry was ultimately determined to be innocent and the Electronic Frontier Foundation called it a ‘wild goose chase’ that demonstrated “the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases.”

23andMe Said to be Valued at $1.1 Billion

23andMe is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company that serves provides genealogy DNA testing. Only nine years old, the company is now believed to be worth about $1.1 billion US, according to a person close to the company.

Perhaps even more interesting, 23andMe is preparing to introduce a new consumer product and to expand its drug-discovery arm.

You can read more in an article by Caroline Chen in Bloomberg’s web site at http://goo.gl/HtOQgr.

Ancestry.com Reportedly is in Talks with FDA to Offer Genetic Testing of Medical Conditions

Ancestry.com is talking to the FDA about using DNA to estimate disease risk for the company’s member base. CEO Tim Sullivan revealed the news in an interview with The Verge, effectively announcing his company’s intention to eventually offer straight-to-consumer genetic testing.

Ancestry is currently in the “very early stages of a conversation with the FDA,” Sullivan told The Verge. “We think it’s totally appropriate that the FDA has stepped in to pretty aggressively regulate direct-to-consumer genetic tests—and we’re just starting from that perspective, and trying to work very closely with them,” he continued.

Queen Elizabeth Asks for DNA Tests to Settle Title Feud Involving Title Pretenders

DNA evidence could be used for the first time to resolve a feud over a hereditary title after the Queen personally intervened in the case. The dispute was triggered when an amateur genealogist revealed that a distinguished baronet came from a different bloodline to his relatives, suggesting there may have been an illegitimate child in a previous generation. The two rival branches of the family have since spent thousands of pounds on a legal battle to prove which is the true line.

Peerage authorities have been called upon to determine if genetic material could be used to determine who should inherit the Pringle of Stichill baronetcy.

You can read the details in an article by Gregory Walton in The telegraph at http://goo.gl/c66cJ2.

DNA Testing: Seven Guidelines for Adoptees

Richard Hill has written an article that may be helpful for adoptees or the children of adoptees looking for their biological ancestors. DNA Testing: Seven Guidelines for Adoptees describes the most common tests that will help adoptees. It also warns, “Whatever you do, don’t waste your money on old technology “sibling” or “kinship” tests. Those tests only check a handful of markers and are nearly always inconclusive.”

DNA Testing: Seven Guidelines for Adoptees may be found at http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/support-files/seven-guidelines-for-adoptees.pdf.

An Interview with Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist

Blaine Bettinger has a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a concentration in genetics and is extremely interested in the recent developments in genetic genealogy. He has been using traditional genealogical research to learn more about his ancestry for almost 20 years. In 2003 he used an autosomal DNA test from one of the first companies offering this type of testing. Since then he has been writing and lecturing extensively about how to apply DNA to your genealogy research.

I had a chance to talk with Blaine at the recent New York State Family History Conference in Syracuse, New York. Blaine talked about his involvement in DNA and he gave great advice for newcomers on how to get started.

Have Your Entire Genome Sequenced for $250

This offer is only available in the U.K. and in South Africa. However, the fact that anyone can provide your entire genome sequence for only $250 is news. I suspect similar prices will soon be available elsewhere although the laws in some countries could be an issue.

Customers of South African health insurance provider Discovery Health will soon be able to have their entire genome sequenced by Human Longevity Inc., which genomics pioneer Craig Venter cofounded last year. The deal between Discovery and Human Longevity marks the first agreement struck between an insurer and a personal genomics company aimed at offering wide access to genetic information. Discovery insures approximately 4 million people in South Africa and the U.K.

Thanks to Genealogists and DNA, a Man with No Name Finally Knows His Real Identity

After 11 years of wondering, searching and struggling, a man in Jacksonville now knows his true identity. Alive, but lost in his amnesia, until he got help from genetic genealogist CeCe Moore.

Moore and a team worked on the man’s case for two and a half years, comparing his DNA to those in databases across the country. Along with information the man thought he remembered, Moore’s team made the connection – when law enforcement couldn’t.

You can read the full story and watch a video about it at http://goo.gl/1rWOcJ.


Limerick DNA Project to Help Decode Irish Family History

A genealogical project pioneered by Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College that uses DNA to trace the genetic history of Limerick families may serve as an inspiration to other Irish communities on how to engage with their heritage, according to Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

The aim of the project is to bring together the historical and genealogical research already collated by the many Limerick experts in these areas, and to examine them in the context of the latest discoveries in Y-chromosome DNA to research the genetic history of Limerick families and communities both here and abroad.

AncestryDNA will now Display Your DNA Matches in a Whole New Way with Shared Matches

AncestryDNA just released a new matching tool called Shared Matches. This new tool will help you see your matches in a whole new way, giving you clues about the common ancestor that may have given both you and your match the DNA you share today. And as a bonus, if you have had a parent tested, you now can see which matches you have in common with them using the mother or father filter.

The Shared Matches tool will show you which matches you and any given match on your list share in common. You can use this new tool to help narrow down your matches to a particular side of your family. It’s especially helpful if you’ve had a parent tested because once you have a parent tested, you’ll see a new filter at the top of your match list that lets you find the DNA matches that you share with your mom or dad.

DNA said to Prove President Warren Harding had Love Child

Thanks to DNA, it is time to correct the history books. Genetic tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president.

I won’t go into all the details as you can read the full story at http://goo.gl/OoDqQ7. However, the story does raise two questions for genealogists:

1. Will future technology prove something that we would like to keep hidden today?

2. How many of the genealogy records we have collected today erroneously list the wrong biological parent?

Comment on “Another Personal Genetics Company Is Sharing Client Data”

Yesterday I published an announcement from AncestryDNA and Calico that provides details about a new collaboration between the two organizations. In fact, the goals of the collaboration sound great: “to investigate human heredity of lifespan.” However, pessimists always see a negative side to anything and this announcement is no exception. This is a variation of the “glass is half full” versus “the glass is half empty” comparison.

Writing in Wired, Katie M. Palmer wrote an article entitled Another Personal Genetics Company Is Sharing Client Data. She states, “… companies like AncestryDNA have convinced customers to pay to give their genetic data away, at a cost of about $100 per sample. This is the same sort of bargain you make when you begrudgingly hand your personal information over to Google or Facebook: You sacrifice some amount of data about yourself in return for added convenience.”

AncestryDNA and Calico to Research the Genetics of Human Lifespan

The following announcement was written by AncestryDNA:

Collaboration Will Analyze Family History and Genetics to Facilitate Development of Cutting-Edge Therapeutics

PROVO, Utah and SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 21, 2015  — AncestryDNA, an industry leader in consumer genetics, and Calico, a company focused on longevity research and therapeutics, today announced an effort to investigate human heredity of lifespan. Together, they will evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees and a growing database of over one million genetic samples. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

AncestryDNA and Calico will work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity using Ancestry’s proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will then focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.

Ancestry Launches AncestryHealth

This appears to be a major expansion of Ancestry.com’s many services. Notice that it is a free service. The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry.com:

Dr. Cathy Petti Joins as Chief Health Officer to Spearhead Company’s Global Health Initiatives

AncestryDNA Database Surpasses One Million People Genotyped

(PROVO, Utah) – July 16, 2015 – Ancestry (www.ancestry.com), the leader in family history and consumer genetics, today announced the launch of AncestryHealth (www.ancestryhealth.com), a new entity and resource to empower consumers with important health insights to help promote wellness, prevent illness and support healthier living. The company also announced appointment of Cathy A. Petti, MD, as AncestryHealth’s Chief Health Officer. At the same time, AncestryDNA (www.ancestrydna.com) announced the accomplishment of surpassing one million people tested in its database.

AncestryHealth’s first offering is a free service, currently in beta, that gives consumers the ability to compile their family health history information with the help of their Ancestry family tree.

So You’re Related to Charlemagne? You and Every Other Living European…

Adam Rutherford is a former geneticist, now a science writer and broadcaster. He is on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science, and his most recent book, Creation (Viking 2013), concerning the origin of life, and genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

Rutherford thinks a crystal ball might be just as good as direct-to-consumer genetic testing when it comes to the ‘genetic astrology’ of linking the DNA of modern humans to their famous ancestors.

He writes, “This is merely a numbers game. You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. But this ancestral expansion is not borne back ceaselessly into the past. If it were, your family tree when Charlemagne was Le Grand Fromage would harbour more than a billion ancestors – more people than were alive then. What this means is that pedigrees begin to fold in on themselves a few generations back, and become less arboreal, and more web-like. In 2013, geneticists Peter Ralph and Graham Coop showed that all Europeans are descended from exactly the same people. Basically, everyone alive in the ninth century who left descendants is the ancestor of every living European today, including Charlemagne, Drogo, Pippin and Hugh. Quel dommage.”

Ancestry Launches Family History DNA Testing Service in Canada

This business offering actually started a few weeks ago but Ancestry.ca released the official announcement today:

DNA test pinpoints genetic ethnicity and helps people discover family origins going back thousands of years

  • AncestryDNA studies a person’s entire genome at more than 700,000 different locations
  • Results detail a person’s ethnic origins across 26 regions worldwide
  • Service can help users discover and connect with new relatives, linking DNA results to a network of more than 16 billion historical records

TORONTO, June 9, 2015Ancestry, the world’s largest family history resource, today launched AncestryDNA in Canada. AncestryDNA allows individuals to learn about their genetic heritage and discover new family connections in Canada and around the world.

When coupled with Ancestry’s database of more than 16 billion historical records, AncestryDNA will enable family history enthusiasts and novices alike to discover even more about their own past, including the ability to find entire new cousin matches around the world.


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