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Your DNA Ethnicity Report Probably Will Change Over Time

In other words, you might not be who you think you are!

This is something that genealogy DNA experts all know but DNA newcomers usually do not. You can have your DNA sample taken one time and submit it to one testing service. A few weeks later, you will receive a report that shows the percentage of ancestry you have different parts of the world.

Simple, isn’t it? Well, not really…

For many people, perhaps most people, if they go back to that testing service’s web site some time later and look at their own DNA report again, they may find that the report has changed! The reason is simple: since the first report was completed, the DNA testing company has improved their database(s) with new and more extensive data. In fact, the DNA testing companies are often updating their ethnic origins databases in order to provide even more precise reports.

While your DNA obviously hasn’t changed, the information the testing company uses to interpret that DNA often changes when more information becomes available. As the Ancestry DNA web site says:

Maryland Legislature Bill Introduced Prohibiting Law Enforcement to Use Publicly Available DNA Databases

The following is a message from Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

Familial DNA matches have been in the news since the California Golden State Killer was apprehended due to this technology last year. Since then other familial matches have led law enforcement to make other such arrests in outstanding major crimes such as murder and rape.

A bill introduced in Maryland, HB 30, would prohibit such searches by law enforcement or others from searching DNA or genealogical databases in order to identify an offender in connection with a crime for which the person may be a biological relative to the individual whose DNA sample is in the database. See: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/bills/hb/hb0030f.pdf

Maryland is the first state to ban the practice of familial DNA searches statewide. The District of Columbia also bans the practice. The state’s DNA collection act was authorized in 1994 which included a provision prohibiting familial searches using the statewide DNA data base for such searches. The bill extends the existing prohibition to commercial databases. Author believes the search violates the 4th Amendment of US Constitution and state constitution.

Predicting the Effectiveness of Immunotherapy Treatment by Using DNA Analysis, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and Huge Databases in the Cloud

NOTE: This article is not about genealogy but does describe the use of DNA to prevent or cure life-threatening medical problems.

Australian analytics company Max Kelsen is using DNA information derived from millions of individuals, along with the Google Cloud, and artificial intelligence (A.I.), to predict the effectiveness of cancer treatments.

The company is integrating A.I. and whole-genome sequencing into cancer research and clinical practice, focusing initially on immunotherapy treatment for melanoma and small cell lung cancer.

How to Extract Your Own DNA at Home by using Vodka

Yes, you read that right. Explore your own DNA at home by using liquid soap, salt and vodka. Oh yes, you will also need some saliva.

Disclaimer: I am not recommending this “test” as a suitable substitute for DNA testing by one of the laboratories that specialize in DNA analysis. However, it is an interesting story so I will repeat it here. After reading this, you are on your own!

One other problem: while you can extract your own DNA from your saliva sample, Dr Brian Cox does not describe how to examine the DNA to determine your ethnic heritage. Maybe that will be in the follow-on video. Then again, maybe not.

As for me, I think I will save the vodka for other purposes…

Announcing the Early Texans DNA Project

The Early Texans DNA database is now live. Those who join the Early Texans DNA project can compare their DNA to other Early Texans descendants and collaboratively work to solve early Texas genealogical mysteries.

The project helps participants study the DNA of descendants of early settlers to discover information that can contribute to Texas history including:

DNA Test Proves the Baby’s Father was not the Agreed Upon Sperm Donor

A Florida couple is seeking damages from a Vermont gynecologist after genetic tests on their 41-year-old daughter reportedly pointed to the doctor being her father, rather than the agreed upon sperm donor.

“This could not have been done accidentally,” said the couple’s lawyer. “It’s fraud, and it’s a question of inserting genetic material into a woman, not of an anonymous donor but rather the physician who is engaging in the conduct itself.”

The couple discovered the reported connection to the gynecologist when their 41-year-old daughter wanted to find her genetic background and learn more about her health and history through a DNA test promoted by several websites.

MyHeritage DNA Testing Featured on the Dr. Phil Show

U.S. residents are probably familiar with Dr. Phil’s television show. Dr. Phil says he was always aware of his Irish ancestry, but it wasn’t until he submitted a simple cheek swab to MyHeritage DNA that he realized there was more to his lineage. He used MyHeritage to test his ancestry.

“Dr. Phil, we found that you have three distinct ethnicities in six distinct countries,” says MyHeritage consultant Yvette Corporon.

FamilyTreeWebinars.com Adds Captioning to Hundreds of Genealogy and DNA Education Classes

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilyTreeWebinars.com:

December 5, 2018

Legacy Family Tree Webinars, the leading genealogy and DNA webinar platform, announced today the addition of closed captioning to its service. Implemented as a full human-curated transcription via synced subtitles, closed captioning is now available as an option for all live and members-only webinar recordings released since May 1, 2018. In addition, the most popular 50 webinars on the platform and all MyHeritage-specific webinars have been captioned. Legacy will add captioning to all new webinars going forward.

“We are committed to providing the best genealogy and DNA education for all, including people who are hard of hearing,” said Geoff Rasmussen, founder and host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. “Captioning is an excellent way to make online education more accessible, and is also a benefit to non-native English speakers who struggle with spoken English but have an easier time with written English”.

If You Don’t Want to Deal with Family Skeletons, Don’t Look in the DNA Closet

Amy Dickinson is an American newspaper columnist who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. In a recent column, she published a letter from a reader asking how to handle a family surprise: upon having her DNA tested, the writer discovered she had a half-sibling that she was not aware of previously. She then shared this bit of information with her family, including with both of her parents.

The information was not well received.

You can read this rather interesting letter and Amy Dickinson’s advice in a number of newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press at: http://bit.ly/2QxfdL6.

Comment by Dick Eastman: I certainly cannot compete with Amy Dickinson’s nationally-syndicated advice column but I will offer one piece of advice to genealogists: If your research finds a something that was previously not widely known within the family, you might want to stop and consider the implications before you broadcast that information to your relatives. Do you really HAVE to tell everyone? or anyone?

A Proposal to Make Money by Selling Your DNA Information

Disclaimer: I am offering this information about a new company’s business plans “as is.” I am not endorsing the company’s service or recommending it in any way. I find the information in this article to be very interesting but I am not yet signing up as a customer of this new service. Instead, I plan to sit back for a while and watch what happens. You need to evaluate the company’s plans for yourself before you sign up.

A few weeks ago, Encrypgen launched what it claims is the world’s first blockchain genomic data marketplace. The company claims it can now begin generating revenues by bringing data buyers and sellers together through a cryptocurrency platform.

According to Encrypgen’s business plans, consumers and researchers will be able to transact with each other in a way that is beneficial to both parties and to Encrypgen. Consumers will be able to upload their genomic data and store it securely. The names, addresses, and all other identifying information of each consumer will be removed from the data and encoded in such a manner that researchers cannot identify the consumer but any payments made by the researchers will eventually be shared with the consumer who uploaded the DNA information.

Findmypast Announces Black Friday DNA Sale

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

MyHeritage Announces a New Feature for DNA users — the Display of Shared Ancestral Places for DNA Matches

MyHeritage now can show you towns, countries and U.S. states where birth or death events of ancestors took place that appear in your family tree and that you have in common with your DNA Matches. This feature makes the company’s DNA Matching even more useful by helping pinpoint how you and your DNA Matches could be related.

Quoting from the announcement:

“Shared Ancestral Places refer to towns, countries, or U.S. states that appear in your family tree as well as in the family trees of your DNA Matches, where birth or death events of your ancestors (and those of your DNA Matches’ ancestors) took place. These places are identified going back up to 10 generations and can play a vital role in family history research.

Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, in collaboration with Living DNA, has launched the most advanced biogeographical ancestry discovery experience on the market
  • This British brand partnership uses cutting-edge science to reveal users’ unique British and Irish heritage across 21 regions and is the first to connect DNA to Findmypast’s archive of more than 9 billion historical records
  • Findmypast and Living DNA’s combined service allows users to pinpoint exactly where in the UK their family roots come from and then use the findings to explore their family history in extensive archives
  • Those who have already taken DNA tests can upload their tests here and make discoveries that only Findmypast DNA can provide

Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has launched their partnership with leading British DNA testing firm, Living DNA, to create a new biogeographical ancestry experience to help family historians explore their worldwide and British and Irish roots.

Available from today, the partnership combines science and history to allow people to explore their past in more depth than ever before possible. It uses Living DNA’s unique test employing cutting-edge science to provide a unique breakdown of 80 global regions, including 21 across Britain and Ireland. Exclusive to Living DNA, this method delivers a level of detail currently unmatched by any other DNA test available on the market.

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

Elizabeth Warren Releases DNA Results Showing she has Native American Heritage

A rather silly political battle has been underway for more than a year between Donald Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren. It seems that Warren stated that her family had always told her that the family has Native American ancestry. Donald Trump made fun of her claim, referring top her as “Pocahontas” and other derogatory names. You can find dozens of videos of the childish exchange of claims on YouTube by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Ayoutube.com+trump+pocahontas&t=h_&ia=web.

Donald Trump has even said he would donate $1 million to charity if Warren took a DNA test.

Now the tables have been turned. Senator Elizabeth Warren had her DNA tested and it shows… Native American ancestry.

Someone Else’s DNA Can be Used to Identify You

More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases — even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday.

Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don’t submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you.

Details may be found in an article by Maggie Fox in the NBC News web site at: https://nbcnews.to/2CckjVT.

New Zealand Siblings Meet for the First Time Thanks to DNA Quest

The following was written by the folks at MyHeritage:

In March 2018, we launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The response to the project was incredible. MyHeritage users poured out their hearts to us with their stories of searching, and their hopes for the future including reunification and belonging. We provided thousands of free MyHeritage DNA kits to eligible participants.

We are excited to bring you one of the many life-changing reunions that have taken place as a result of DNA Quest. Without the assistance of this important initiative, half-siblings Susan and Terry, both New Zealanders, living only an hour or so away from each other, may have spent years not knowing the other existed.

Watch the exciting moment they met here:

The full article may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at http://bit.ly/2zYnfDZ and more info may be found  in The New Zealand Herald at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12135548.

Opinion: Your DNA Is Not Your Culture

This is a bit of a follow-up and a rebuttal to an article I published a few days ago: Discover Your “Musical DNA” at https://blog.eogn.com/2018/09/24/discover-your-musical-dna/:

Writing in The Atlantic, Sarah Zhang points out that “A Spotify playlist tailored to your DNA is the latest example of brands cashing in on people’s search for identity.”

Discover Your “Musical DNA”

An online advertisement caught my eye: “Spotify & AncestryDNA Users Can Now Generate Personalized Playlists Based On Their DNA Heritage Results.”

Really? My musical DNA? What is that?

An article by Kaitlyn Wylde in the Bustle.com web site states:

AncestryDNA has joined forces with Spotify to create the ultimate personal playlist curation experience. And by “personal”, I mean the playlist that this partnership offers you will resonate with you very deeply — aka, the music is literally tuned to your DNA. Yes, using your AncestryDNA results, Spotify will put together a collection of songs that are based on your heritage. If you’re in the market for a closer connection to your music library, this special feature will definitely hit the spot. I mean, how much closer can you get than sharing DNA?

Blaine Bettinger Launches DNA Central

Blaine Bettinger is a genealogy expert who specializes in the use of DNA to trace family trees. He is a prolific author and public speaker. Here is a photo I took of Blaine while speaking at the Unlock the Past conference in Seattle about two weeks ago:

Now, Blaine has launched DNA Central. It is a membership-based website that brings together in one place DNA news, tests, discounts and much more. According to the web site: