Business News

Forensic Genomics, a Dynamic New Peer-Reviewed Journal, is Launching in the Fall of 2020

The following announcement was written by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.:

Forensic Genomics, a dynamic new peer-reviewed journal, will launch its preview issue at the annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in September 2020.

Forensic Genomics elucidates modern advances in genetic testing, genome sequencing, and analysis which are enabling investigators to break through previously impenetrable barriers in forensic testing and enable advances in live and cold case investigations.

Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and spearheaded by Editor-in-Chief David Mittelman, PhD founder and CEO of Othram Inc., the Journal will be published quarterly in print and online with open access options; it will serve as the cornerstone publication of forensic genetics, genomics, and genealogy.

Ancestry® Names Dr. Ron Park Executive Vice President of Health and DNA

The following announcement was written by Ancestry®:

LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO, April 15, 2020 — Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Ronald Park, MD, MBA, will join the company as executive vice president of Health and DNA on April 20. In this new role, Dr. Park will lead AncestryHealth®, which launched last year with a focus on advancing personalized health screenings with actionable insights. Dr. Park will join Ancestry’s executive leadership team reporting to president and chief executive officer Margo Georgiadis.

Dr. Park joins Ancestry after 16 years at Roche Pharmaceuticals, including international leadership roles in Roche and U.S. roles in Genentech (a member of the Roche Group). While there, he served in a variety of strategic, lifecycle and commercial leadership roles, including as general manager of Roche in Denmark and Iceland. Most recently, Dr. Park was the co-leader of Roche Pharmaceutical’s personalized healthcare center of excellence, a role in which he was instrumental in efforts to develop and accelerate Roche’s approach for utilizing genomics, real-world data and digital health to enhance Roche’s ability to develop and deliver medicines to patients with serious diseases.

MyHeritage Partners With Chinese Genomics Firm To Set Up Coronavirus Testing Lab

The following is an announcement from MyHeritage, the sponsor of this newsletter:

Israeli-founded genealogy platform MyHeritage, the company behind DNA testing for family ancestry, has partnered with the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) to set up a lab for accelerated COVID-19 testing in Israel, the company announced on Friday.

The lab is expected to begin running on April 9 and will be able to conduct 10,000 tests a day with a goal of as many as 20,000 tests, MyHeritage said.

BGI has already established similar labs in the Chinese cities of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, and Shenzhen.

MyHeritage Donates 66,000 Swabs to Israel to Combat the Coronavirus

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post:

The online genealogy platform MyHeritage has donated 66,000 medical swabs to Israel in a bid to combat the coronavirus. The swabs were initially shipped from the company’s supplier in North Carolina and amount to an estimated $10 million in lost revenues, according to a report released by Calcalist on Monday.

The shipment of swabs was expected to arrive in Israel on Monday, said Gilad Japhet, CEO and founder of MyHeritage. Japhet added that he first contacted a salesperson associated with MyHeritage’s partner lab Family Tree DNA swabs in order to organize the shipment to Israel.

Cutbacks by Ancestry, 23andMe Signal a Shakeout for DNA Industry

From an article by Kristen V Brown in the Bloomberg magazine’s web site:

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc.

“Consumer DNA-testing firms are closing up shop and cutting jobs, as a lull in sales forces the industry to move beyond the genealogy tests that turned a handful of well-funded companies into household names.

“At least three companies have closed down or suspended their operations over the past year, while the two DNA-testing bellwethers, Ancestry.com LLC and 23andMe Inc., each cut approximately 100 jobs in recent weeks. Others have pulled tests from the market thanks to slow sales.”

The full article may be found at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-25/the-rise-and-fall-of-home-dna-testing.

MyHeritage Introduces Fan View for Family Trees

I saw this demonstrated today at the RootsTech conference and must say I was impressed. First of all, I love fan charts. They can display an excellent image of a person’s ancestry in an easy-to-understand format. Lots of genealogy programs can create excellent PRINTED fan charts and display them as printed reports or as visually pleasing images on a computer screen. With most genealogy programs, you can have your computer create a fan chart and then you and your relatives can view the output.

The demo by MyHeritage that I saw today is different: it creates INTERACTIVE fan charts. Ok, that is a fancy term but what does it mean? In short, when displaying information on screen as a fan chart, it is not only a static display but you can also click on any individual within the chart to add or modify the information as you wish. The changes to the person’s data then are saved to the main database of your ancestors.

If you wish, you can even make the fan chart as your main “starting point” when entering new data. Click on a person and enter whatever new data you have. You can also change the chart’s colors, size, formatting, and may other options until you crate the display you prefer.

Findmypast’s Archive is the Fastest Growing on the Market

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  Findmypast’s collections have grown by over 1.5 billion names in the last year

·         Totalling over 13 billion records, Findmypast is now home to the fastest growing archive on the market

·         More records added over the past 12 months than all major competitors combined 

·         Millions of new and exclusive records bought online for the very first time

RootsTech, Salt Lake City, Utah,  February 26th 2020

Findmypast continues to publish millions of new records from Britain, Ireland, North America and beyond each and every month, providing users across the globe with new opportunities for discovery. 

The world leaders in British & Irish family history are now adding an average of 4.3 million searchable names a day, making them the second largest publisher on the family history market and the fastest growing archive online. 

2019 has seen Findmypast’s collections expand significantly, with over 1.5 billion names added to the site over the past 12 months alone.

Geneanet Launches a New Service: Geneanet DNA

Another DNA testing service has launched online. According to Geneanet’s home page:

“With Geneanet DNA, let’s build the first European DNA database together

“Millions of you have already taken a genealogical DNA test. And more and more of you are asking to be able to upload their DNA data to Geneanet for finding new relatives.

Layoffs at Genetic Testing Companies Reflect the Changing Market

This is a follow-up to articles I published recently: the layoff at 23andMe announced at http://bit.ly/2vhC1FH and the layoff at Ancestry announced at http://bit.ly/2SsW0t5.

An article by Nicole Wetsman in The Verge web site adds more information in a review of today’s DNA testing business and suggestions as to the underlying causes of these business setbacks. You can find Nicole Wetsman’s article in The Verge at http://bit.ly/2H2ZJYW.

Ancestry Announces Lay-Offs and a Change in Corporate Focus on the Family History Business

Ancestry’s president & chief executive officer, Margo Georgiadis, today announced a reduction in the company’s workforce. Blaming a slowdown in the company’s DNA service, she writes, “Future growth will require a continued focus on building consumer trust and innovative new offerings that deliver even greater value to people. Ancestry is well positioned to lead that innovation to inspire additional discoveries in both Family History and Health.”

You can read the full announcement in the Ancestry Blog at https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2020/02/05/our-path-forward/.

23andMe Lays Off 100 Employees

According to an article by Christina Farr in the CNBC news web site at https://cnb.cx/30Piet9:

23andMe is laying off 100 people, or 14% of its staff, mostly from its operations team, as consumer DNA tests are down.

CEO Anne Wojcicki didn’t have a clear explanation for that, but cited a variety of factors, including both recession fears and privacy concerns.

Wojcicki said she anticipated that DNA testing would explode when she co-founded the business in 2007, but is now looking ahead to a retracting market.

RootsWeb Mailing Lists to be Discontinued

The following is from an email message sent to many RootsWeb users from the RootsWeb administrators:

Beginning March 2nd, 2020 the Mailing Lists functionality on RootsWeb will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails or accept incoming emails. Additionally, administration tools will no longer be available to list administrators and mailing lists will be put into an archival state.

Administrators may save the emails in their list prior to March 2nd. After that, mailing list archives will remain available and searchable on RootsWeb.

American Ancestors Offers New Employee Benefit Program to Corporations

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors (also known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society):

December 10, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—In a crowded field of employee benefit options available to companies in Boston, a new program offered by American Ancestors stands apart. The growing interest in genealogy, family history, and DNA testing has inspired American Ancestors to offer companies something unique in the category.

American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has announced a new Corporate Membership Program designed for Boston-area companies that want to offer a genealogical research experience with its many celebrated benefits to company personnel. Researching and studying genealogy and family history has experienced a surge in interest and participation in recent years and NEHGS, creators of the respected American Ancestors brand in genealogy with many popular products and services, is among the leaders in the industry.

GEDmatch, the Controversial Genealogy Website that Helped Crack the Golden State Killer Case, has been Bought by a Forensic Genetics Firm

Late breaking news: Crime scene DNA sequencing company Verogen has just acquired GEDmatch, a genealogy database credited with helping to solve some 70 rapes and murders.

Verogen, a San Diego-based company that provides equipment for high-tech sequencing of crime-scene DNA, has announced that it has acquired GEDmatch, a website that rose to fame after it led cops to the alleged Golden State Killer.

(You can read about GEDmatch’s genealogy DNA matching web site in previous articles in this newsletter by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+gedmatch&t=brave&ia=web.)

GEDmatch has been caught in the crossfire of a bitter argument between genealogists who believe the site has compromised its users’ privacy and those who want to work with law enforcement to help solve violent crimes.

Laboratory for Advanced Medicine Inc. has Hired a new Chief Executive Officer: Kenneth Chahine, a former Ancestry.com Executive

Friends and former co-workers might be interested to know that Kenneth Chahine, Ph.D., J.D., has moved to Laboratory for Advanced Medicine Inc. He is the new CEO and is competing with several venture-backed startups in a new market for blood tests that detect cancer in its early stages.

Laboratory for Advanced Medicine is an AI-driven healthcare company focused on commercializing early cancer detection tests from a simple blood draw.

You can read the announcement at: https://tinyurl.com/eogn191105.

Ancestry Makes $1 Million Educational Grant to UpToDate to Develop Genetic Testing Information for Medical Providers

The following announcement was written by Ancestry®:

LEHI, Utah & LAS VEGAS–Grant Reflects Ancestry’s Focus on Working with Providers, Consumers Toward Improved Health Outcomes

Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, announced it has made a $1 million educational grant to UpToDate®, a leading evidence-based clinical resource, to independently develop information for healthcare providers to help them interpret and act on the results of genetic testing. Announced during a mainstage discussion at the 2019 HLTH innovation conference by Margo Georgiadis, chief executive officer of Ancestry, the grant is part of Ancestry’s long-term commitment to partnering with healthcare stakeholders to improve preventive health.

As millions of consumers choose to take DNA tests to gain greater insight into their health and wellness, healthcare providers must be prepared to have informed and meaningful conversations with their patients, helping them understand how their genes influence their health to enable them to take actionable next steps.

Filae.com launches English language site and facilitates access to 1.5 billion names from French Records

The following announcement was written by Filae:

Filae’s French collection opens the door for non-French-speaking people to discover their family stories online; 40 million people in the world (excluding France) claim French descent.

Paris, France – September, 18, 2019 – Filae.com, the world’s largest online resource for accessing French official records, today announced the launch of its first foreign language international sister-site: https://en.filae.com.

With more than 40 million people in the world claiming French heritage, the launch of an English language version of Filae.com gives all of them an unprecedented and exclusive access to more than 150 million images of French Census and Vital records (birth, marriage, death) which have been indexed by Filae.com. As Elvis Presley, Alec Baldwin, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Kurt Cobain, Warren Buffett, Hillary Clinton and many other celebrities, 4% of the US population, 17% of Argentinians and 14% of Canadians have French roots!

AncestryHealth Announces Genotype and Next Generation Genetic Sequencing Services

The following announcement was written by Ancestry:

LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO – (Oct. 15, 2019) – For more than 30 years, Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, has built innovative services that empower millions of people to make more meaningful discoveries about themselves and their families. First with family history, then through DNA and today, with the introduction of AncestryHealth®. AncestryHealth is a long-term commitment to making a difference in preventive health through personalized and actionable insights.

Through a highly supportive and guided experience, AncestryHealth services deliver actionable insights that can empower people to take proactive steps — in collaboration with their healthcare provider — to address potential health risks identified in their genes and family health history. In a recent AncestryDNA® customer survey, 83 percent of respondents said they are looking for new ways to improve their health and 89 percent said it is critical for their children to learn about improving their health.

23andMe’s New VIP Service Includes a One-On-One Chat to Explain your DNA

23andMe just added a third purchasing option for those who want a little bit more.

The new VIP Health + Ancestry Service delivers more options for customers, including concierge-like services. The VIP service bundles together one 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service kit, with a companion kit, overnight shipping, and priority lab processing.

Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter and Gene By Gene Join Forces to Shape the Future of Investigative Genetic Genealogy

The following announcement was written by Gene By Gene, the parent company of FamilyTreeDNA:

Barbara Rae-Venter, PhD

HOUSTON, Sept. 27, 2019 — Genetic genealogist Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, recognized for her groundbreaking work in the Golden State Killer case, named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2019, and Nature’s 10 people who mattered in science in 2018, has been named Director of Gene By Gene’s newly formed Investigative Genetic Genealogy Unit.

Gene By Gene, known in the direct-to-consumer business as FamilyTreeDNA, was the first company to market direct-to-consumer DNA testing, and first to provide familial matching through a person’s DNA signature. “Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter pioneered law enforcement’s most revolutionary crime-solving tool since the fingerprint,” says president and founder, Bennett Greenspan. “We are excited to have a genealogist of Dr. Rae-Venter’s caliber working with us to set industry-leading standards for investigative genetic genealogy.”