DNA

April 25 is National DNA Day in the U.S.

National DNA Day commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) began celebrating DNA Day annually on April 25th after the 108th Congress passed concurrent resolutions designating it as DNA Day. The goal of National DNA Day is to offer students, teachers and the public an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the latest advances in genomic research and explore how those advances might impact their lives.

MyHeritage Announces a DNA Day Sale through April 25


This is an excellent chance to save on a DNA test for yourself… or give two or three of them to others.

Click here to learn more.

The MyHeritage DNA Quest Pro Bono Project helping Adoptees is now Global

Last month, MyHeritage launched the DNA Quest, a new pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The initiative, initially launched in the USA only, received an amazing response. More than 10,000 applications were submitted so far to receive free DNA kits, from the quota of 15,000 free DNA kits pledged by MyHeritage, worth more than one million dollars.

Being that the deadline for submissions is the end of April 2018 and there are still about 3 more weeks to go, and in light of the many requests MyHeritage has received from the community to expand DNA Quest worldwide, the company decided to increase the scope of the project, from USA-only to global. This means that people are now eligible to participate in DNA Quest regardless of their place of residence and regardless of where the adoption took place.

You can read more in the MyHeritage Blog at https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/04/dna-quest-goes-global.

The DNA Quest website may be found at: http://www.dnaquest.org.

DNA Quest by MyHeritage Goes Global

The following announcement was written by the folks at MyHeritage:

Last month we launched DNA Quest, a new pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing.

The initiative, initially launched in the USA only, received an amazing response. More than 10,000 applications were submitted so far to receive free DNA kits, from the quota of 15,000 free DNA kits pledged by MyHeritage, worth more than one million dollars.

Being that the deadline for submissions is the end of April 2018 and there are still about 3 more weeks to go, and in light of the many requests we received from the community to expand DNA Quest worldwide, we decided to increase the scope of the project, as of today, from USA-only to global. This means that people are now eligible to participate in DNA Quest regardless of their place of residence and regardless of where the adoption took place.

Dating Website Matches You Based on your DNA

DNA Romance is a website that promises to match you with potential partners, based on your genes.

The theory is that your body produces chemical signals, as determined by your DNA. When a potential partner detects these signals (supposedly by smelling them), it creates ‘chemistry’—an innate sense of attraction that can’t be credited to your height, lack of debt, or physical abilities.

The web site advertises, “DNA Romance is an online platform for singles looking for genuine relationships based on chemistry and personality compatibility. We provide evidence-based matchmaking saving our customers time, money and frustration by matching them with Mr Right or Ms Right sooner.”

What Your Cat’s DNA Can Tell You

OK, now I have heard it all. Cat DNA?

Basepaws is a company dedicated to genetic testing for cats. You order a CatKit ($95), which equips you with all the tools you need to provide Basepaws with DNA samples from your kitty. The kit includes a swab for collecting cheek cells and tape for collecting fur. Have you ever tried to put a stick into the mouth of a cat? Good luck with that!

Basepaws aims to tackle several spheres of information related to DNA—things like health, ancestry, and predicting traits. However, it is a new company and presently is only able to provide basic information about breeding. Is your cat a purebred? Probably not, but Basepaws can tell you for sure.

MyHeritage Announces Easier Navigation in your DNA Match List

An announcement in the MyHeritage Blog states:

“At MyHeritage our users’ feedback is extremely important to us. We do our best to listen to the community to provide the best possible family history research experience. Today we released two new features that were requested by our users at the RootsTech conference in Utah in February (thanks Judy Russell, and others!), to make navigating in the list of DNA Matches easier. Following major updates and improvements to our DNA Matching in January 2018, MyHeritage DNA users are receiving 10 times as many matches as before. It’s therefore only natural that there is now demand for easier ways to work with this information and make the most of it.

“With this feature, you can manually enter the page number you would like to go to, in the list of DNA Matches. From now on, if you are interested in DNA Matches that appear beyond the first few pages of your massive DNA Match list, you don’t need to click through the pages one by one. Simply enter the page number you would like to jump to in the “Go to page” field and then press “Enter”.”

There’s a lot more. You can read the full announcement at: http://bit.ly/2GwjqtK.

Siblings Can Have Surprisingly Different DNA Ancestry

When it comes to tracing your roots through your genes, biological siblings may have less in common than many people expect. The fact is that one sibling might inherit more from Mom than from Dad while the other sibling might inherit a different mix.

An article by Nicole Wetsman in the National Geographic web site explains it all at http://bit.ly/2DPLSBj.

Two Sisters From Across the World Reunited Through MyHeritage DNA

A recent MyHeritage DNA Match brought together two half-sisters living on opposite sides of the globe, one in Holland and the other in Australia. You can read the heartwarming story in the MyHeritage Blog at http://bit.ly/2DFZmiW and watch a video of the reunion in the video player below or at:

Intermountain Healthcare to Build Global DNA Registry with 23andMe, MyHeritage, and AncestryDNA Data

Genealogy and DNA continue to be mixed together in an attempt to prolong human lives. The following is an announcement from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute:

A team of researchers from Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute plan to build a global DNA database of genetic test results and EHR histories, Intermountain Healthcare announced March 1.

The project, dubbed the GeneRosity Registry and funded by the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation, will compile data from adults who have already purchased direct-to-consumer genetic tests from commercial sites like AncestryDNA, MyHeritage or 23andMe. These participants will have the option to voluntarily upload raw and unprocessed genetic test results to the project’s website.

MyHeritage Releases Chromosome Browser Upgrade to Facilitate Better Exploration and Interpretation of DNA Matches

The following announcement from MyHeritage should prove to benefit many genealogists who are using DNA to prove or to supplement traditional DNA methods:

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah–MyHeritage, the leading global destination for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major upgrade of its chromosome browser, making it easier for users to make the most of their DNA matches.

A chromosome browser is a graphical tool that represents a person’s chromosomes. It visualizes DNA segments shared by two people who have matching DNA, that may originate from one or more shared ancestors. By studying those segments and testing the DNA of additional relatives, it is possible to determine who the segments originated from and understand the relationship path between the two people.

MyHeritage Science Team’s Research Featured in the Prestigious Journal Science

The following announcement was written by the team at MyHeritage:

We are proud to share that our science team, led by MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Yaniv Erlich, has had a groundbreaking paper published today in Science, one of the most influential academic journals in the world.

The research was conducted with scientists at Columbia University, the New York Genome Center, MIT and Harvard, and provides fresh insights into the last couple of centuries of marriage and migration in Europe and North America, and the role of genes in longevity. Other than Dr. Erlich who led the research, MyHeritage Science Team member Tal Shor is also one of the authors.

Massive Family Tree Yields New Insights about Humanity

MyHeritage Launches DNA Quest — a Major Pro Bono Initiative for Adoptees and Their Biological Families to Find Each Other via DNA Testing

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage, the sponsors of this newsletter. The announcement was made in front of thousands of genealogists at an opening session of RootsTech by Aaron Godfrey of MyHeritage. The announcement and the in-person introduction of two long-lost sisters to the RootsTech audience was a major highpoint of the day. (You can view the session soon on the RootsTech videos at http://www.rootstech.org.) If you are an adoptee or a member of a birth family, I suggest you read this announcement about a FREE service carefully. You also will want to read the article in the MyHeritage Blog.

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah–MyHeritage, the leading global destination for family history and DNA testing, announced today the launch of a new pro bono initiative, DNA Quest, to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. As part of this initiative, MyHeritage will provide 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits, worth more than one million dollars, for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants. Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, and to anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing. The first phase of the initiative is open to USA residents, involving adoptions that took place in the USA. Application opens today on the project website, www.dnaquest.org, which includes detailed information about the initiative.

The First British People Were Dark-Skinned

DNA from one of Britain’s first people, Cheddar Man, shows that he was very likely to have dark brown skin and blue eyes. By sequencing the ancient DNA extracted from his skeleton, scientists were able to create skin color, eye color, and hair type. Despite his name of “Cheddar Man,” scientists also know from his DNA that he couldn’t digest milk.

Close up of the model of Cheddar Man rendered by Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions

MyHeritage on BBC World News

MyHeritage’s Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, visited the BBC’s London studio to speak to Aaron Heslehurst and Talking Business, BBC World News’ flagship business show. They spoke about MyHeritage DNA and the future of genetic genealogy. Japhet also talked about the growth of MyHeritage and the growth of DNA as a genealogy tool.

You can watch the interview on YouTube at https://youtu.be/WBWE9saXOD0 or in the video player below.

They Considered Themselves White, but DNA Tests Told a More Complex Story

How well do you know your ancestry? As more Americans take advantage of genetic testing to pinpoint the makeup of their DNA, the technology is coming head to head with the country’s deep-rooted obsession with race and racial myths. This is perhaps no more true than for the growing number of self-identified European Americans who learn they are actually part African.

An article by Tara Bahrampour in the Washington Post points out that many Americans are unaware of their own racial heritage. The article states, “…a 2014 study of 23andMe customers found that around 5,200, or roughly 3.5 percent, of 148,789 self-identified European Americans had 1 percent or more African ancestry, meaning they had a probable black ancestor going back about six generations or less.”

A New Company Wants to Sequence Your Genome and Let You Share It on a Blockchain

Disclaimer: I am questioning the wisdom of this proposal. I don’t think I will participate. However, it is an interesting story so I will mention here and let you make up your own mind. Nebula Genomics plans to address one of the concerns about taking DNA tests: Who owns your test results? You? Or the company that did the testing?

Nebula Genomics says it plans to sequence your genome for under $1,000, give you insights about it, secure it using a blockchain, and allow you to do whatever you want with the data.

Nebula is the brainchild of PhD student Dennis Grishin, graduate Kamal Obbad, and geneticist George Church, all from Harvard. Mirza Cifric, CEO of Veritas Genetics, which offers a genome-sequencing service for $999, is a founding advisor.

5 Things You Need to Know About DNA Testing for Genealogy

Did you have your DNA tested and do the results confuse you? Amy Johnson Crow has some suggestions that might clear the confusion. You can read her article, 5 Things You Need to Know About DNA Testing for Genealogy, at: https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/dna-testing-for-genealogy.

Contacting DNA Matches is Now Free on MyHeritage

In response to popular demand, Contacting DNA Matches is now available to all MyHeritage DNA users for free. This remains free for people who uploaded DNA data to MyHeritage, and, for the first time, is also free to users with MyHeritage DNA kits who do not have a subscription plan.

Details may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/01/contacting-dna-matches-is-now-free.

Map Your Genome at Home With a Cell-Phone Sized Human DNA Sequencer

The most extensive and detailed human genome sequence yet has been assembled using a hand-held device roughly the size of a cell phone. Best of all, the new device is expected to cost about $1,000 US. I don’t think I will buy one at that price but I can see where a small medical office or other medical professionals certainly will want one.

An international team of scientists working at a lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz, created a portable nanopore sequencer that not only used DNA fragments hundreds of times longer than is standard, but closed 12 gaps in the known human genome, according to a UCSC press release.