DNA

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:

DNA leads to Arrest in Florida Woman’s 1999 Murder

On March 29, 1999, Deborah Dalzell’s body was found inside her home off Colony Meadows Lane in Sarasota, Florida. Her co-workers were concerned when she did not show up for work. When deputies arrived, they found her brutally beaten, sexually battered, and strangled. Who did it remained a mystery for nearly two decades. The main piece of evidence left behind was DNA from the suspect.

The mystery man was finally unmasked this week. Deputies announced the arrest of 39-year old Luke Fleming. At the time of the murder, he lived less than a mile away from Dalzell. Fleming was charged with murder and sexual battery with great bodily harm. He remains in the Sarasota County Jail on a $1.2-million bond.

“Thanks to DNA evidence coupled with ancestry and genealogy, we’ve finally connected the dots,” said Sheriff Tom Knight.

Prediction: “Hundreds” of Crimes will soon be Solved using DNA Databases

Genealogist CeCe Moore is well known for her work in using DNA information to solve “cold cases” for police departments. She has now indicated this is just the beginning of such work. Suspects in hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes will be identified using public DNA databases in the near future, according to her statements at the recent MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.

CeCe Moore is the head of a genealogy unit at Parabon Nanolabs. The company has already helped US police forces identify suspects in nine grisly crimes since last spring. It does so by using crime-scene DNA to locate relatives who have uploaded their own profiles to a consumer genealogy service. Once blood relatives are located, the identity of suspects can be inferred from family trees.

In addition, a volunteer group called the DNA Doe Project has been identifying human remains, and a forensics organization, Identifiers International, has said it is working on a dozen murders.

You can read more and watch a video in an article by Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for biomedicine, at: http://bit.ly/2OF7zKJ.

Ancestry.com Changed how it Determines Ethnicity and People are Upset

There is an article by Marc Daalder in the Detroit Free Press that will interest genealogists. It starts:

“Ancestry.com, the website better known for helping users create family trees, find distant family members and capture suspected serial killers, made a lot of customers angry last week.

“Recently, Ancestry has entered the business of DNA testing, which allows users to send a vial of spit to the company and receive in return a detailed genetic portfolio, including risk for some diseases and estimates of their ethnic ancestry.

“Neither the medical nor the heritage information are guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but as the science improves, so does the quality of the results. At least, that’s what Ancestry insists.

“After Ancestry rolled out a new update to its ethnicity estimate system last week, users noticed dramatic changes in their ethnic profiles – some of which is inaccurate, customers say.”

Later in the article, Marc Daalder also states:

MyHeritage now Supports 23andMe version 5 and Living DNA Uploads

Here is another industry first from MyHeritage. If you are using MyHeritage’s FREE DNA matching service or are thinking of using the FREE service soon by using DNA results obtained from another testing company, you will be interested in this news. According to an announcement from MyHeritage:

“We now support the upload of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files, in addition to supporting data uploads from all major DNA testing services, including Ancestry, 23andMe (prior to V5) and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder).

Upcoming Changes to the FREE MyHeritage DNA Matching Service

As of December 1, 2018, MyHeritage’s policy regarding DNA uploads will change: DNA Matching will remain free for uploaded DNA data, but unlocking additional DNA features (for example, ethnicity estimate, chromosome browser, and some others) will require an extra payment for DNA files uploaded after this date.

MyHeritage will announce the full details of the new policy once it is finalized, closer to December 1st. All DNA data that was uploaded to MyHeritage in the past, and all DNA data that is uploaded between today and prior to December 1, 2018, will continue to enjoy full access to all DNA features for free. These uploads will be grandfathered in and will remain free.

Co-workers Discover they are actually Father and Son

DNA is great for finding relatives, both close relatives and distant ones as well. However, DNA isn’t always necessary.

A pair of co-workers in Wisconsin recently made a surprising discovery. They found out they’re not just friends. It seems they’re also father and son. DNA apparently was not used to make the discovery.

Both men are truck drivers for the same company, and have worked together for two years.

You can read more and watch a video about this story at: https://6abc.cm/2LZHsvG.

Like It or Not, Everyone might soon be in a DNA Database

There is an interesting article by Stuart Leavenworth in the Herald.net web site:

“Familial searches led California authorities to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo in the Golden State Killer probe in April, and investigators have since used it to make breakthroughs in several other unsolved murder cases, including four in Washington state, Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina.

“But as these searches proliferate, they are raising concerns about police engagement in “DNA dragnets” and “genetic stop and frisk” techniques. And as public DNA databases grow and are accessed by law enforcement, investigators may soon have the ability to track down nearly anyone, even people who never submitted their genetic material for analysis.

“’If you are a privacy zealot, this is super alarming. It means you don’t have any privacy,’ said Malia Fullerton, a bioethics specialist and professor at the University of Washington. ‘On the other hand, if you have no problem with police using your family information to solve these cold cases, you might see this as a good thing.’”

Father and Daughter Reunite on The Megyn Kelly Today Show Thanks to their DNA Tests

New Hampshire social worker Kim Fairbank, 51, always knew she was adopted. After a rough childhood of familial disappointments, she yearned to connect with her biological family. She tried DNA testing and waited for answers. It was MyHeritage DNA that brought Kim the match of a lifetime — with her biological father.

You can watch the reunion in the video below or on the MyHeritage Blog at: http://bit.ly/2ofsB6Z.

Another Suspect In Decade-Old Serial Rapes Arrested With Help Of Genealogy Database

For more than 10 years, police In Fayetteville, North Carolina, had been trying to identify a serial rapist. They had tied him to at least six rapes in the same neighborhood between 2006 and 2008. They called him the “Ramsey Street Rapist.” They never gave up trying to find the perpetrator. A few days ago, they identified the man, thanks to Parabon NanoLabs and the public genealogy DNA database, GEDmatch.

Darold Bowden, the suspect arrested, was a “career petty criminal” who had just barely avoided having his DNA collected by law enforcement. Bowden faces a range of felony charges, including first-degree forcible rape, burglary, kidnapping, and indecent liberties with a child. He’s being held with an $18.8 million bond.

Details may be found in an article by Camila Domonoske in the NPR web site at: https://n.pr/2MVi5zF.

Can Siblings Have Different DNA Ethnicity Estimates?

If you are learning about DNA, there is an interesting article in the MyHeritage Blog that you might want to read:

“It comes as no surprise that when two siblings are DNA tested, their results will usually be similar. What is surprising to many people, though, is how two siblings (not twins) with exactly the same parents and ancestors can receive different ethnicity results. After all, identical ancestors should give identical ethnicity estimates, right?

“Well, it’s not that simple. In fact, it’s rather common for siblings to have different ethnicity estimates. There are several factors that can affect genealogical ethnicity. We’ll take a look at those factors here.”

The Genetics of Cousin Marriage

It’s conventional wisdom that procreation between first cousins is unhealthy. But what are the actual genetic risks?

James MacDonald describes some of the risks in a new article. He writes:

“In much of the world, consanguineous marriage between cousins is very common. For most Americans, however, marriage between cousins is at best a punchline, at worst a taboo. In many states, it is illegal for first cousins to get married. The objections are ostensibly based on the risk of genetic problems. But is there an actual risk?”

You can find the article in the JSTOR Daily at: http://bit.ly/2w0K47v.

 

Genealogists Help in the Hunt for ALS Genes along a large Family Tree in Kentucky and Virginia

One family with origins in Ewing, Virginia, just east of the state’s mountainous meeting point with Kentucky and Tennessee seem to suffer from a medical condition they knew as cancer of the throat. They lost the ability to chew, swallow, and speak, they lost weight, and then they died. A doctor recognized it as something else: ALS. The medical condition also is often called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

NOTE: ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

Notable individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS include baseball great Lou Gehrig, theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Senator Jacob Javits, actor David Niven, “Sesame Street” creator Jon Stone, musician Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), entertainer Dennis Day, jazz musician Charles Mingus, former vice president of the United States Henry A. Wallace, and others.

ALS often is inherited, passed on from one generation to another within a family. However, not everyone within the family develops ALS. By the time the symptoms are apparent, it is normally too late to slow down the disease.

Genetic Genealogy Is Now Solving Recent Crimes, not Just Cold Cases

In recent weeks, the news services have been full of articles about law enforcement officials using the publicly-available genealogy DNA site GEDmatch to find relatives of criminals who committed crimes many years ago, Most of the cases involved “cold cases,” violent crimes committed 20 to 40 years ago. However, the use of this technology has moved forward. Now the officials are using GEDmatch and whatever other publicly-available DNA information they can find to identify criminals in more recent cases.

For instance, a 31-year-old man, Spencer Glen Monnett, was arrested by police in Utah on July 28 for the rape of an elderly woman, Carla Brooks. The crime happened only last April. Monnett was located via “genetic genealogy”: DNA he left at the crime scene was used to find his relatives and then him.

You can read more in the MIT Technology Review web site at http://bit.ly/2AtJofz.

DNA Testing Companies Offering Genetic Testing Pledged to Follow Voluntary Guidelines

The following announcement was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen and is republished here with her permission:

In light of the recent familial DNA testing by the public DNA site GEDMatch,  private genetic testing companies pledged on July 31 to follow voluntary “Privacy Best Practices for Consumer Genetic Testing Services”. The companies pledged  to obtain consent from users before sharing “individual-level information”, including personal information, and genetic data with other businesses.   The concern over privacy of the DNA data, which resulted in the “Best Practices” pledge stems from law enforcement being helped by using the familial DNA matching to find the suspected Golden State Killer (he has not yet been convicted so I am saying suspected) which did not require a court-ordered warrant and other potential cold case criminals.