12 November 2013

2013 Family Tree DNA International Conference

The 2013 FTDNA International Conference was held November 9-10 in Houston at the Sheraton North Houston.

Max and Bennett opened the conference with Max stating to the assembly that "Competition is an endorsement for what you are doing." Family Tree DNA started and the competition came.  He remarked that FTDNA is stronger than ever and that "good things are in the pipeline".  He commented that the recent acquisition with Arpeggi  guarantees continuity as he and Bennett are getting older.

Some of their newest staff were introduced and according to the conference manual ...

Jason Wang is now the Chief Technology Officer and has "had over ten years experience building successful technology companies and managing large development teams".

David Mittelman, PhD is Chief Scientific Officer and is a "geneticist, professor, and entrepreneur" and "holds a PhD in Molecular Biophysics through the Department of Biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine".

Nir Leibovich is the Chief Business Officer and "a seasoned entrepreneur with a proven track record in operating and growing successful companies" with strengths in "business operations, team leadership, product and market strategy, business development and marking."

Rudy Marsh, Director of Product, has a degree in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas and was the "founder of FFAnet in 1999.  Under his guidance, FFAnet grew to 250,000 subscribers by 2006 before being sold."

David, Nir and Rudy met with several FTDNA Administrators prior to and after the conference to learn how we use DNA testing and what needs we have.  They have already begun making some of the suggested changes and additions so those at the conference are really excited about the coming years.

Max and Bennett remembered those who were part of our genetic genealogy family and have deceased:
Thomas Bopp
Tom Roderick
Herb Hubesher
David Brown
Kenny Hedgepath
Joan Miller
Henry Kaplan
Leo Little

Day 1 Agenda

Amy McGuire, JD, PhD’s presentation Am I My Brother’s Keeper addressed the privacy of individuals and the rights and interests of biological relatives of those who choose to share their genomic testing publicly.  She mentioned that with that with the online databases a good hacker could identify members of the 1,000 genomes testing. Interview data suggests that people vary greatly in how they feel about sharing their data and privacy.  One study concluded that 53.1% of those interviewed wanted the data public; 33.1% wanted it protected to some level and 13.1% wanted full protection from the public.  Many testers favored sharing the data to help health research.  Dr. McGuire mentioned dbGap which requires viewer to register and to go through a panel to justify why they wish to view/use the data stored there.  Open access databases do not have similar stipulations.

Various informed consent forms have been created by some of the companies who make the genomic data public.  When James Watson had his full genome tested, the project managers wanted permission of his children to make it public.  He would not allow them to contact his family, so the company gave it to him to release, which he did.

Of course, all of this is in flux and raised many concerns such as:
Just how many generations are relevant in data being shared?  Up to 3rd cousins?
The responsibility should fall on mis-users of genetic data rather on restricting access.
Biological relatives should not be allowed to block relatives’ autonomy rights.

Dr. Miguel Vilar from the Genographic Project discussed the Geno 2.0 Update and Y—2014 Tree. He reviewed various aspects of the project including the Legacy Fund which helps linguistic and cultural preservation, the seven scientific grants awarded so far this year (a total of 75 grants for over $2 million dollars since conception across 5 continents), 42 manuscripts produced, and over 80 professional conferences held.  In 2013 ninety-six grant applications were received which nearly tripled the average number. Over 3,000 students across hundreds of schools have participated in the Genographic education and outreach program.

The Geno 1.0 test which ran from 2005 to 2011 had ~500,000 participants and tested 8 mtDNA SNPs in the control region and 17 SNPs in the Y along with Y-STRs)  However, the Geno 2.0 which began in 2012 has ~80,000 participants. The Geno 2.0 chip contains ~150,000 SNP array (made by Illlumina) which encompasses 130,000 atDNA (non-medical) SNPs, 3,000 mtDNA SNPs and 17,000 Y-SNPs. There are 72,000 indigenous samples since 2005 and currently 12 research centers on six continents.

The Geno 2.0 test provides the mitochondrial and Y haplogroup, compares you to 46 populations and gives you information on the top two along with your percentage of matches with Neanderthal and Denisovian hominids.  The massive number of Y-SNPs can be transferred to Family Tree DNA.

The new Genorgaphic Blog will provided many interesting articles and the latest updates.

The Y haplogroup tree has branches ten times larger with the advent of Geno 2.0’s massive Y-SNP program.  There are dozens of SNPs downstream form R-M222 which are found in Ireland. Currently there is a massive focus on R-L21 and County Mayo, Ireland and results should be available in a week or two.

Great news!  Genographic has hired someone to work with US and Canadian Native Americans in order to encourage more testing in these areas.

Geno 2.0 is currently on sale for the holidays at $159.95 (Reg. $99.95)

Matt Dexter in his Autosomal Analysis shared the result from testing his family, including his five children.  His presentation explained how autosomal DNA tests all lines of a pedigree chart and from the results of testing several of his family members, including a grandparent and grandchild, he demonstrated how one can determine which segments came from which side of the family.  Some interesting findings were how a granddaughter inherited more DNA from one grandparent than from another, how two of his children had more DNA alike than they did with other siblings.  He noted that some chromosomes can crossover consistently as well as some segments are handed down for generations.

Break Out Sessions
Jeffery Mark Paul  – Differences in Autosomal DNA Characteristics between Jewish and Non-Jewish Populations and Implications for FTDNA;s Family Finder Test
Terry Barton – Finding Indian Princess
Debbie Wayne Parker  – mtDNA Tools and Technology

THIS is when I needed a couple of CLONES!

I attended Dr. Paull’s presentation Differences in Autosomal DNA Characteristics between Jewish and Non-Jewish Populations and Implications for FTDNA's Family Finder Test as I am in his study.  Since the research findings have not been published, specific data will be omitted here.

The study explored the reasons for significant differences in match probabilities between Jewish and non-Jewish populations. Eighty-four study participants were divided into Jewish, Non-Jewish, and Interfaith groups.  Using the Family Finder test with a focus on the number of matches and the distribution of predicted relationships, data was recorded regarding the variation of shared centimorgans (cMs) and longest cM blocks.  The goals is to determine how atDNA results varied between the groups so more accurate adjustments could be made to the Family Finder algorithm for endogamous populations.  The study determined among other things where over prediction appears to occur for Jewish populations.

NOTE:  Endogamous populations are those that tend to marry within their class, ethnic or social group.

Additonal Breakouts:
Roberta Estes – Finding Indian Princess
Tim Janzen – Autosomal Mapping
Jim Rader – What Can a Genealogist Use from DNA Test Results?

Roberta Estes in her presentation on Finding Indian Princess provided some wonderful clues to determine if an ancestor could have been a Native American when DNA testing cannot always help.  If the Native American is not on the patrilineal, matrilineal line or is not within the parameters of an atDNA test and the tester has enough DNA to fit the threshold, a DNA test cannot help greatly. Roberta shared her knowledge that helps researchers not kiss too many frogs as she puts it, but to find their Indian Princess.  In some records during certain times, Native Americans are lumped together with all persons of color. However, knowing the state laws can help. On tax rolls, wives who were not white were also taxed.  White wives were not.  In 1835 in North Carolina and Tennessee if a person had a drop of non-white blood, the lost their right to vote, testify in court and other civil rights that we take for granted today. A mixed couple could live on tribal land and many did.  The Cherokees were heavily admixed and in 1835 there were 211 white intermarried when the removal roll was taken.

Remember that not all oral history accounts of Native American can be determined by DNA testing, but that does not disprove the oral history.

Table Discussions:
The names following the topic were moderators of the discussions which were well attended.

1. atDNA – Matt Dexter
2. atDNA Projects – Ken Graves and Emily Aulicino
3. Advanced DNA Tools; 3rd Party, etc. – CeCe Moore
4. mtDNA – Debbie Parker Wayne
5. Y-DNA SNPs – Rebekah Canada, Roberta Estes, and Marie Rundquist

The results of the atDNA Project meeting on Saturday culminated in gathering all the email addresses of those attended to continue further discussion.  A major focus was to gather information on the varieties of atDNA projects that do exist, determine what variety of atDNA projects could exist as well as what information could be included on atDNA webpages and what tools are needed. Some of the criteria for these goals will take time to develop.

FTDNA Recognizes 10+ Year Administrators
Before the end of the day, Bennett and Max handed out plaques to those in attendance who had been administrators for ten or more years.  Family Tree DNA knows there are many others who have been administrators this long, but had to settle on those who attended. They intend to recognize the others in some manner, so if you are a 10+ year administrator, please email FTDNA at events@ftdna.com with your name, group and approximate start date.

Those are:
1.  Leo Baca
2.  Mic Barnette
3.  Janet Baker Burks
4.  Roberta Estes
5.  Robert B. Noles
6.  Dyann Hersey Noles
7.  Nora J. Probasco
8.  Whitney Keen
9.  Jim Barrett
10. Michael DeWitt McCown
11. James L. Rader
12. Steven C. Perkins
13. Ken Graves
14. Linda Magellan
15. Allen Grant
16. Katherine Hope Borges
17. Phillip Crow
18. George Valko
19. Terese Bueker
20. Nancy Custer
21. Peter J. Roberts
22. Louise Rorer Rosett
23. Mary Fern Souder

Jerry Cole should have received a plaque and will be getting his this week.

The group is flanked by Max and Bennett.

AND...check out the great logo for the T-shirts this year!

Say tuned for Day 2 and the list of DNA kits on sale until December 31st!

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