The Sorenson Foundation is well known as a major DNA testing organization that is interested in genealogy. Now the same foundation is branching out by starting a brand-new, DNA-enabled social networking site, again with a focus on genealogy and family. GeneTree.com is a place that allows people to share photographs and videos and collaborate on sharing their family history. The web site's goal is “… to be able to take any two people in the world, sit them down and tell them exactly how they are related.”
Genealogy social networking sites seem to be popping up everywhere these days. GeneTree enters a crowded field, already filled with the long-established MyFamily.com as well as more recent sites such as Geni.com, FamilyLink, FamilyRelatives.com, Zooof.com, and Famillion.com. According to GeneTree, the web site is unique due to its digital media software and a tie into the DNA database run by Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF). The site will also offer mitochondrial DNA testing as part of its suite of services.
GeneTree provides participants with a combination of online tools and resources, including the following features:
- Rich homepages for living and deceased individuals
- Family Tree Builder: interactive, searchable family trees that allow participating individuals and families to assemble and preserve detailed histories and memories
- Control of privacy, access, and collaboration settings
- High-quality DNA testing services with comprehensive results
- Intuitive drag-and-drop publishing and media sharing capability for video, audio, photos and documents
- GeneTree DNAvigator: informative visual representations of an individual's genetic family history, through snapshots of ancestors' geographic location at various points in time
According to information on the GeneTree.com site:
GeneTree (www.genetree.com) is a new category of family networking site designed to help people understand where their personal histories belong within the greater human genetic story. The GeneTree site creates unparalleled opportunities for unlocking genetic heritage and identity, connecting with ancestors and living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and experiences to help preserve family histories. GeneTree expands the concept of family, providing fresh new answers and perspective to the universal questions, “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?”
The vision for GeneTree was conceived in 2006 by principals at several Sorenson companies, who were curious about where they came from, and recognized that others shared the same curiosity and would want to connect and share family histories. The resulting innovative GeneTree tools and information will help fuel the efforts and imaginations of the countless people seeking greater knowledge about their genetic and cultural origins. The GeneTree beta site was formally launched October 23, 2007.
I find it interesting that The Generations Network, owners of Ancestry.com, recently announced a new DNA testing service that is being offered in partnership with the Sorenson Foundation. The Generations Network has heavily promoted the new partnership, and yet the new announcement from the Sorenson Foundation doesn't mention that partnership at all. Instead, the Sorenson Foundation is pushing the DNA testing service of its own subsidiary: Identigene (www.identigene.com), which was recently acquired by Sorenson Genomics.
GeneTree is a free web site although it does offer DNA test kits for sale. Strangely, GeneTree only offers mitochondrial DNA tests (which examine genetic information passed on by mother to child). The site's FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions) say the site will soon offer Y-chromosome tests (which examine genetic information passed on from father to son) as well.
All information on the GeneTree site is visible only to the specific living participant. Each GeneTree participant controls his or her own privacy and sharing settings.
Here is the press release from the Sorenson Foundation that announces the new site:
Sorenson Companies Launch GeneTree, a Unique Genetic-Genealogy Social Networking Web Site
'You Belong Here' Is Motto of New Web Site that Provides Unrivaled Tools and Resources for Millions of People Who Are Researching and Sharing Their Genealogies Online. New Type of Family History Networking Site Includes DNA Profiles and World's Largest Genetic-Genealogy Database, Along with Interactive Family Trees, Video-, Photo-, Audio-Sharing, and More.
SALT LAKE CITY (Oct. 23, 2007)-The Sorenson family of companies, an innovative group of enterprises founded by biotech billionaire James LeVoy Sorenson and son James Lee Sorenson, today announced the launch of GeneTree, a new type of family history networking Web site that empowers users with tools and resources to unlock the extensive ancestral information contained within their DNA. GeneTree (GeneTree.com) will allow millions of people to discover their deep family history connections and share meaningful family information and experiences with the worldwide Internet community.
Traditional family history Web sites are already plentiful, and genealogy research is often cited as the second most-popular use of the Internet. But GeneTree is unique because it integrates genetic genealogy with innovative digital media software. The result is a suite of powerful tools to discover and document family history, helping individuals answer the age-old question, “Who am I?”
GeneTree taps into the expertise of several Sorenson enterprises in the forefront of the technologies this new category of Web site links together. Sorenson Media developed the world's leading digital video compression and encoding software that has been installed on more than 1.2 billion computers. The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), a non-profit research organization, operates the world's largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogy information. GeneTree will tie into the SMGF database that currently contains information on more than 6 million ancestors through linked genetic and pedigree data from approximately 90 percent of the world's countries. Sorenson Genomics, which pioneered Web-based consumer genetic testing, will perform the DNA analysis.
On GeneTree, users can connect with family and friends and preserve their family histories using rich media and social networking technologies. Participants collaborate on assembling detailed family histories with powerful, easy-to-use software for building family trees and by sharing digital media and memories. Users can choose to have their DNA tested and then map those results with the Web site's worldwide genetic genealogy collection and thereby discover portions of their deep ancestral histories that predate written records. Those who elect to have genetic analysis done may choose from several types of mitochondrial DNA tests ranging in price from $99-$149.
“We are saying 'You belong here' to the millions of people in the multi-generational Internet community who are interested in exploring and collaborating on their personal and family histories,” said James Lee Sorenson, GeneTree CEO. “GeneTree provides a fun and compelling way to interact with friends and extended family while leaving the priceless legacy of a richly documented family history. The combination of powerful genetic genealogy resources and easy-to-use digital media sharing tools will make this Web site an important part of people's online lives. In addition, GeneTree will expand the concept of family for each new user who joins.”
The relatedness testing services provided by the division of Sorenson Genomics formerly named GeneTree will now be offered through Identigene (www.identigene.com), which was recently acquired by Sorenson Genomics.
GeneTree (www.genetree.com) is a DNA-enabled family history-sharing Web site designed to help people understand where their personal histories belong within the greater human genetic story. GeneTree creates opportunities for unlocking human genetic heritage, discovering ancestors, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing rich media to help discover, document and preserve family histories. GeneTree was developed by the Sorenson family of companies and draws on the expertise of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that developed the world's foremost collection of genetic-genealogy information; Sorenson Media, which created of the world's leading digital video compression software; and Sorenson Genomics, which pioneered Internet-based consumer DNA testing.