13 December 2013

Family Tree DNA Webinars with Elise Friedman

Family Tree DNA now offers webinars for learning the basics of genetic genealogy. These webinars, conducted by Elise Friedman, are FREE.  Ms. Friedman been doing DNA webinars for a few years through her website Relative Roots

This first webinar’s agenda was a wonderful overview of the basics of using DNA for genealogy and included these points:

What is Genetic Genealogy
Brief History of Genetic Genealogy
DNA Bases and Inheritance
Overiew of Family Tree DNA
Y-chromosome tests
mtDNA tests
autosomal tests Family Tree DNA Projects
More Family Tree DNA Resources
Announcements and Wrap UP
Q & A

The webinar gave clear examples and explanations for using DNA testing to supplement your traditional genealogy.  Ms. Friedman’s presentation provided quality information in a clear and concise manner without a lot of technical jargon.

Her future presentations will focus on the three types of tests: Y-chromosome (Y-DNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (atDNA) in the next couple of weeks.  Watch the Family Tree DNA Facebook page for dates and times.

In the near future, Family Tree DNA will have the schedule posted on their site.

Click to view this webinar  for the next few weeks.

Take advantage of this great learning tool and see how DNA testing can help your genealogy.

Wonderful idea Family Tree DNA!!!


10 December 2013

And the FTDNA Features just keep rolling along….

Family Tree DNA has begun notification on a weekly (no doubt when it applies) updates to their system.  This is greatly appreciated as changes requested by the genetic genealogy public are coming quickly.  

This week we have two changes: 
1.  Being able to clear their map coordinates for their oldest known maternal and paternal lines as that person can change as we add information to our lineages.
2. Using a matrix for Family Finder matches to determine if two or more of your matches match each other.

The Family Finder Matrix feature is extremely important in finding half-identical regions (HIRs) which allow you to map your chromosomes and determine a possible common ancestor.

      Each of our 23 chromosomes is actually a pair of chromosomes since we receive one from mom and one from dad, but the current chromosome comparison features do not indicate that each chromosome is actually a pair. This is partially due to not knowing which of the pair came from which parent. Determining which parent gave which chromosome in the pair can only be clarified after testing relatives and / or finding common ancestors with your matches or from phasing a parent(s) and child. Although viewing DNA segments with your matches using a chromosome comparison feature is an important step in finding a common ancestor, it is more important to determine the half-identical regions you share with your matches.
      Where you match someone on one of the pair in any chromosome is referred to as a half-identical region.  This is the region or segment along one of the copies of a chromosome (either the one from mom or the one from dad) where at least one of the two bases (A, G, T, C) of a person’s test results match at least one of the two bases from a different person's test results. This match should be throughout the entire HIR segment.
       If you wish to locate the common ancestor you share with a match or learn which ancestor gave you the DNA segment, you must determine the half-identical regions you share with your matches. If you are comparing two or more matches with your DNA results, you must determine which half-identical region you share with those matches and which they share with each other, if any. Testers must match on the same half-identical region in order to have the same common ancestor. The new Family Finder Matrix can help.

Family Tree liaison Rebekah Canada has sent the following message from Family Tree DNA:

Weekly Information Technology/Engineering Update 

(10 Dec 2013)

Matches Maps Locations Clear Button

Some users have requested the ability to clear their stored map coordinates for their most distant known maternal or paternal ancestors. We have added a Remove Location button to Step 3 of the Update Most Distant Ancestor’s Location wizard.

Family Tree DNA myFTDNA BETA Family Finder – Matrix

Today, we are happy to release our new BETA Family Finder – Matrix page. The Matrix tool can tell you if two or more of your matches match each other. This is most useful when you discover matches with wholly or partly overlapping DNA segments on the Family Finder - Chromosome Browser page.
Due to privacy concerns, the suggested relationship of your two matches (if related) is not revealed. However, we can tell you whether they are related according to our Family Finder program. To use it, you select up to 10 names from the Match list on the left side of the page and add them to the Selected Matches list on the right side of the page. A grid will populate below the lists. It will indicate whether there is a match (a blue check mark) or there is not a match (an empty white tile).

You access the BETA Family Finder – Matrix page through the Family Finder menu in your myFTDNA account.

The page starts out with two list areas: Matches and Selected Matches. You add Matches to the Selected Matches list by clicking on a name and then on the Add button.

Here is a screenshot of the BETA Family Finder – Matches page with a few matches added to the Selected Matches list.

 You can change the order of names in the matrix by clicking on a name and then either the Move Up or the Move Down button.

WOW...Family Tree DNA is listening to its customers and quickly applying their requests.  What more could you ask!  Thank you FTDNA!

Explore the new features now, before more come rolling along and you get behind! 


05 December 2013

23andMe vs FDA: No DNA Health Tests Being Sold


It appears the FDA is moving quickly.  As of today 23andMe can no longer sell DNA kits for health purposes.  Perhaps this will change if things are resolved with the FDA, but that could take much time.

When you first open 23andMe the following message appears.  You must click that you understand the information before you can actually login.  This appears only once.

The above form letter states:

Welcome to 23andMe.

At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply immediately with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.

We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.

If you are an existing customer please click the link below and then go to the health page for additional information. If you are a customer that purchased before 11/22/13, you will still have access to your health-related results.

We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.

Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.

I understand that 23andMe only sells ancestry reports and raw genetic data at this time. I understand 23andMe will not provide health-related reports.  However, 23andMe may provide health-related results in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.


After clicking the green button below the message (see photo above) which says "I UNDERSTAND", you are taken to the home page for selling kits.  The kit price is still $99, but there is no mention of any health testing.

IF the FDA's issues with 23andMe can be resolved and the company can resume selling DNA health kits, the path would be cleared for other companies.  However, if 23andMe either has to cease selling the health tests or has to modify their system greatly, there is concern about how profitable the company will be, given that it has always been structured around a focus on health rather than on genealogy.  In the meantime, it is also possible that more restrictions may be placed upon the company. We shall have to see.

Depending upon the outcome, their entire business model may need changing and/or their website. No doubt the FDA has 23andMe's ear now, and no doubt 23andMe will scramble to comply.  They have no choice.  BUT just what will be required of them is the question  What compromise, if any, can be reached.

Regardless, this can be a handicap to genealogists.  Many genetic genealogists have reported that even though people have tested for health reason, they often become interested in genealogy.  Given this, all of us are losing.

The genetic genealogy community is watching all this very carefully...


Family Tree DNA Updates Website

Family Tree DNA has updated their site using the requests presented to them by the genetic genealogists at their yearly conference in Houston this last November.  These change,s as promised, have happened in record speed!  HAPPY DANCE!

All of the following were among the requests, and there are more requests slated to come!  This is a very exciting time to see that Family Tree DNA is listening to the project administrators who are greatly involved in using the website features I the best possible ways to assist in dealing with genealogical brick walls.

The announcement stated:

Today we are releasing some great updates that were requested during our 9th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy.  Here is a quick summary with some screen shots of what to expect.

ftdna 12-4
1. The timeout for myFTDNA has been increased from 30 min to 2 hrs.  This will benefit everyone but will especially be appreciated by our Group Admins when they are impersonating into a kit.
2. Changed the word “Triangulation” to “Common Matches” for Family Finder matching.
ftdna 12-4 2
3. Instead of using the word “Steps” on the matching pages we will now use “Genetic Distance.”  This will effect both the Y-DNA and mtDNA matching pages.
ftdna 12-4 3
4. Fixed the Interactive Tour.  It was getting stuck at the Family Finder section but will now complete.
ftdna 12-4 4
5. Updated the Profile Pop up on matching pages with a new design and restored the “About Me” section and badges.  This profile is available on all matching pages:  Y-DNA, mtDNA, Family Finder, and Advanced Matching.
ftdna 12-4 5
6. Added the ability for a user to download chromosome browser data for all of their matches.  This new option is towards the top right side of the chromosome browser page and will be in Excel format.

YEAH for these changes, especially number one an six since administrators are often timed-out before our work is complete AND the latter change allows everyone to download the chromosome browser data for all of our matches at once instead of five at a time! HAPPY, HAPPY DANCE!!!

Although some of these changes may seem minor, they are all very helpful...and the real point is this:  Family Tree DNA is listening to the needs of genetic genealogists who know best how to use DNA testing for their family research.  These changes reflex needs that make the lives of voluntary project administrators easier as well as clarify the process for the DNA users.

All of us are very anxious to see the rest of the proposed list addressed in the coming months, and are very hopeful that most, if not all, of the suggested changes will be implemented.  

AND, how many companies do you know that listen to consumer needs with positive action?  I can't name any other.  

Looking forward to the future!

03 December 2013

23andMe vs. FDA

Over the last week or so there has been a great deal of discussion with the announcement that the FDA is asking 23andMe to "cease and desist".  The genetic genealogy community has been watching all this very carefully.  We are not being alarmists, but cautious. Some of those genetic genealogists are familiar with the workings of the FDA on these matters and some are knowledgeable about 23andMe in general.  There is agreement that we need to move on all this.

I have waited to post about the FDA confronting 23andMe as other bloggers have done a very fine job keeping everyone current, and I wanted to be certain there was movement toward curbing 23andMe.  Now there is.

I realize that some of you may just be on AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA, but most of you have done 23andMe and perhaps all three.

I know I have recently asked for emails from those who match me and am trying to get everything on 23andMe in order as this FDA project isn't going away.  23andMe has just pulled all their online ads for their affiliate programs.  You know, those links that get you something if someone orders a test through the link on your site.  The middle link tells you what to do for your account.

Anyway, I strongly urge you to read all of the following links from blogger Roberta Estes:

Please ask for emails from all your testers and to share BASIC genomes.  If you match me and we are not sharing emails or BASIC genomes, please send an invitation to do so and send me your email.

ALSO, consider transferring your test results to Family Tree DNA to be in another database for several reasons:
1. You get additional matches and at this site you do not have to invite people as you see their email and names.
2. We just don’t know to what exist the FDA will push their “cease and desist” order.

ALSO, know that 23andMe has had plans to upgrade their chip (at least before all this and they still may once this is resolved).  The new chip is not compatible with Family Tree DNA and with AncestryDNA so to join those groups now may be a good thing.  Family Tree DNA's cost to transfer from either 23andMe or AncestryDNA is on sale for $49 until Dec 31.

Do spread the word.  Altough some of us paid hundreds of dollars for this test while those new to all this paid $99 or got it free through one of the 23andMe programs, none of us want to lose what we have obtained.  

Hope this helps,