Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Genetic Genealogy

CCTV America and Kathleen Brandt
Big Business of Genetics
4 Jan 2014

There’s no question that genetic genealogy involves Genealogical DNA testing resulting in participants confirming, denying or verifying genetic kinships between one another usig a shared database. For genealogists and family researchers FamilyTreeDNA, Ancestry.com DNA and 23andMe DNA testing companies are household names. If you haven’t been keeping up with what’s trending, you may wish to review how DNA tests can further your genealogy research.

This renewed interest in reviewing DNA testing companies has been initiated by the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on 23andme to continue their health-related genetic tests until they are in compliance with FDA regulations. They have been allowed to continue DNA testing for the ancestral portion. But, “how does the associated health related genetic tests impact Genealogy research?, asked CCTV America to Genealogist, Kathleen Brandt . This CCTV America episode, Big Business of Genetics aired live in Beijing, China, 4 Jan 2014. The short answer to their question: “It doesn’t.”

The 23andMe Autosomal test still provides wonderful data for genealogical search. It still provides family data, historical migratory paths, and more. The researcher can still chart a Medical Genealogy tests with the assistance of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., to present to a Geneticist for analysis. And, as a side note: participants should still need implement “best practices” for best health results (eat right, exercise…you know the routine). But that is another topic.

5 DNA Questions/Answers
Here is the summary (not direct quotes) of the five questions posed by CCTV America to Kathleen Brandt on the air.
(1) Would you say the Growth of DNA sites is trendy?
DNA testing is trendy, but probably here to stay. It can help solve genealogical brickwalls. In genealogy we use it to assist our research with adoption cases (finding relatives), identifying war brides or children of war, defining migratory paths of ancestors (point of origin), surname evolution and changes, and as a tool for medical genealogy with the assistance of a Geneticist. For more on charting medicalgenealogy visit Medical Genealogy: Staying Abreast of Trends. 
(2) What makes DNA testing attractive to participants?
FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe hold large databases. FamilyTreeDNA has over 640 thousand participants, and 23and Me has an excess of 500 thousand. Once a person has been tested on a site (FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe), as the databases grow, additional genetic matches are found. Participants are notified of possible matches (kinships) by email, allowing for an opportunity to meet new cousins, share family histories, etc.
(3) Is DNA testing more popular in the USA than in other countries and why?
Due to the extensive immigration, of all nationalities, into the USA, DNA testing is often used to determine ethnic origin. Although genealogy research has long been the USA 2nd top hobby (next to golf) thanks to popular TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC) and Finding Your Roots (PBS) demonstrating successes of DNA testing as an effective tool for solving family mysteries, the demand for these tests has increased in recent years.
(Bragging rights: Kathleen Brandt of a3Genealogy is a genealogy researcher for both of these TV shows.)
Charting Medical Genealogy
(4) What can the participant expect from DNA testing? What are the benefits?
Each client may find new and surprising results. Unbeknownst to the participant their surname may not be a match with genetic cousins. This could be due to a Non-Paternity Event (adoption, "love child", extramarital affair). DNA tests can connect the correct families. DNA tests may also confirm slave kinships or slave/slaveholder kinships, to name a few expected (or unexpected) results.
(5) How does a3Genealogy implement DNA testing with clients?
At a3Genealogy we analyze DNA test results as part of our genealogical services. DNA complements, confirms and verifies our genealogy paper-trail. We usually do not perform a DNA tests until after an extensive research project has been completed (except perhaps in the case of adoption or unknown parentage). We often suggest DNA testing to private clients, or for heir-ship cases, where we search for heirs of an estate.

Kathleen Brandt
From CCTV America Live Interview
3 Jan 2014

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