The Education and Community Involvement (ECIB) Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is offering its annual NHGRI Short Course in Genomics from July 29 – August 1, 2019.
This year’s course is for middle and high school teachers, community college and Tribal College faculty teaching genetics, biology or related science courses. Class size is limited.
What is the NHGRI Short Course in Genomics?
The NHGRI Short Course in Genomics offers science educators the opportunity to hear lectures and receive teaching resources from leading NHGRI and National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers, clinicians and staff and to discuss ways to incorporate genomics content into their classrooms.
Topics range from complex disorders/diseases, sequencing technologies, brain and behavior, bioinformatics, gene editing, the human microbiome, and ethical issues in genomics research, among others.
When and Where is the course held?
The NHGRI Short Course in Genomics will be held from Monday, July 29 – Thursday, August 1, 2019, on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Accepted participants must attend for all four days of the course.
Is there a fee to attend the course?
The course itself is free. NHGRI has funding for air travel, hotel accommodations and per diem for up to four participants only. Selection is based on financial need and distance from course location.
How to Apply
The application for Summer 2019 will be available in late February. If you are interested in being notified when the 2019 application opens, please email Christina Daulton (email@example.com).
At Ancestry, your privacy is a top priority. Ancestry is committed to being a good steward of your Personal Information, handling it in a responsible manner, and securing it with administrative, technical, and physical safeguards.
We also believe in being honest, direct and transparent when it comes to your data. Ancestry follows three guiding principles when it comes to your privacy:
Transparency. We work hard to be transparent about what Personal Information we collect and process.
Simplicity. We try to use easy-to-understand language to describe our privacy practices to help you make informed choices.
Control. We give you control over the Personal Information you provide to us, including your DNA Data, and how it is used, shared, and retained.
Other Important Things for You to Understand When You Use Our Services
You always maintain ownership of your DNA and DNA Data—you can manage and delete it as described in this Statement.
You may discover unexpected facts about yourself or your family when using our services. Once discoveries are made, we can’t undo them.
When you make new discoveries with us, you should feel confident and informed about how we use your Personal Information. Our full Privacy Statement is below and we encourage you to read it.
Effective Date: April 30, 2018
2. Account Creation and Your Engagement with Ancestry Services
The Personal Information required to create a basic Ancestry account is only your name, an email address, and a password. Access to Ancestry records to help you build a family tree, or to our DNA features (ethnicity estimate, etc.) requires additional personal information, including payment details, and, for the DNA test, the test code (when you activate your DNA test kit) and a saliva sample from which we can extract Genetic Information.
Account creation also requires you to agree to the Ancestry Terms and Conditions and this Privacy Statement by clicking “Continue” on the account creation page.
By clicking “Continue,” you are telling us that you consent to Ancestry collecting, processing, and sharing your Personal Information (including your Genetic Information if you have taken the AncestryDNA test) as described in this Privacy Statement and in any other documents referenced in this Privacy Statement.
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3. What Information Does Ancestry Collect From You?
The table below describes the information we collect from you to provide the Services. In this Privacy Statement, we refer to this as your “Personal Information.”
An email address
A password that you provide us when you create an Ancestry account
A mobile phone number that you may voluntarily provide so we can notify you of DNA test result status, or when you contact Ancestry Member Services
Credit Card/Payment Information
Payment information, such as your credit card number, and your billing and shipping address(es), when you purchase something from Ancestry, such as an Ancestry subscription or a DNA test kit.
DNA Kit Activation Information
When you activate a DNA test kit, we collect
Your DNA test kit code
Your year of birth
We collect the information that you provide when you voluntarily create a user profile. This information may be seen by other Ancestry users.
Additional personal details that you provide in your profile (for example, a profile image, your name, age, location, etc.), will be visible to other Ancestry users.
User Provided Content
Information you provide about yourself or other living individuals when you voluntarily contribute to the Services, or participate in community discussions.
For example, you might contribute details (stories, images) about your or other users’ family trees, annotate Ancestry content or records.
Information about deceased persons is not Personal Information under this Privacy Statement.
We extract your DNA from your saliva at one of our partner laboratories when you send it back to us in the tube provided with your AncestryDNA test kit.
We convert your DNA into machine-readable code (“DNA Data”), which is used to provide you an ethnicity estimate. Your DNA Data is also used to provide other information about you, such as your connection to genetic relatives in our database and any genetic associated with physical traits, such as hair color or traits associated with your health and wellness.
A note about your DNA and Saliva: Once our laboratory partner has produced your DNA Data, the DNA and saliva (also referred to as “biological samples”) are stored so that they can be available for future testing. Future testing may be done if you agree to our Informed Consent for Research or if you otherwise consent to future testing of your biological sample. Sections 8 and 10below describe how you can control both your DNA Data and your biological samples.
Social Media Information
If you use Facebook to log into Ancestry Services, we collect information from your Facebook profile that you choose to provide to us (for example your Facebook profile information).
Additional User Information
Information that you provide to us when you answer email surveys or online questionnaires offered through the Services.
Your 1:1 communications with other Ancestry users through our communications features, as well as information you provide in communications with Ancestry Member Services.
Contests and Promotions
Personal Information when you voluntarily participate in contests and special promotions we run through our Services.
4. What Information Does Ancestry Collect Through Your Use of the Services?
Computer and Mobile Device Information
Information about how you access our Services, including the website you visited before and after Ancestry’s site.
The Internet protocol (“IP”) address of your computer, mobile device, or the proxy server that you use to access the Internet, in addition to other technical information, such as:
Your computer operating system, and
Your web browser.
Your mobile device identifier provided by your mobile device operating system and your mobile operating system.
The name of your internet service provider or mobile carrier.
Information from Cookies and similar technologies
Information shared through social media features
If you interact with social media through the Services, for example “Like,” “Tweet,” “Pin,” or “Follow Us” links to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube, Ancestry will collect these interactions and whatever account information these services make available to us.
Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy statement of the applicable third party company.
Information from your use of the Services
Information about your use of the Services, such as when you search or access records or public family trees, which pages you view or links you click on, or when you add people to your tree, etc.
5. Information We Collect From Other Sources
Information from Public and Historical Records
Ancestry collects records from various sources, usually from official record sources, including newspapers, as well as birth, death, and marriage records, which may contain Personal Information relating to you. These records are generally part of Ancestry’s subscription Services.
Information from Third Parties
We may also receive information about you from third parties. For example, we may supplement the data we collect with demographic information licensed from third parties in order to personalize the Services and our offers to you.
If you purchase a gift subscription, we will collect Personal Information to complete the gift and notify the recipient.
6. How does Ancestry use your Personal Information?
Personal Information (generally)
We use your Personal Information to provide, personalize, improve, update and expand our Services. This includes:
Authenticating your access to the Services and improving Ancestry information security;
Processing your payments for subscriptions, AncestryDNA services and test kits, and other premium products and features;
Building new and improving existing products and Services;
Helping you create, and providing insights about, your family trees based on data in Ancestry’s databases;
Issuing surveys and questionnaires to collect Additional User Information for use in the Services, as well as facilitating product development and research initiatives;
Conducting scientific, statistical, and historical research; and
Detecting and protecting against error, fraud, or other criminal or malicious activity and enforcing our Terms and Conditions.
We use your Personal Information to communicate with you about the Services, such as when we:
Respond to your inquiries to Member Services;
Alert you to potential relatives identified by DNA matching, or through our family history services (for example, “Hints” about potential ancestors in our database);
Alert you to records pertaining to people in your family tree or to whom you may be related;
Inform you of product changes or new products and services;
Ask you to participate in Ancestry media productions or testimonials; and,
Provide you with information or request action in response to technical, security, and other operational issues.
Market new products and offers from us or our business partners.
Ancestry uses your Genetic Information for the following primary purposes:
Delivering ethnicity results, (e.g., close relatives or distant cousins) from our database, and other information to help you learn more about yourself, your relatives and genetic family groups;
Connecting you with your relatives in our database through features such as DNA matching or other product features;
Providing you other insights into what your DNA reveals about traits, personal health and wellness; we may also invite you to participate in surveys and questionnaires (entirely optional) based on your DNA data.
Providing relevant results to assist you in discovering common ancestors and other details about your family history, as well as helping you connect with friends and family;
Studying aggregated Genetic Information to better understand population and ethnicity-related health, wellness, aging, or physical conditions;
Conducting scientific, statistical, and historical research; and,
Improving features and functionality in our existing DNA-related products, enhancing the customer experience across Ancestry products, improving the quality of our laboratory processes and technology, and building new products and services, including services related to personal health and wellness.
We will seek additional consent from you before we collect and process additional sensitive Personal Information (for example, health history) as part of your interaction with the Services.
7. When Do We Share Your Information and Who are the Recipients?
Ancestry does not share your individual Personal Information (including your Genetic Information) with third-parties without your additional consent other than as described in this Privacy Statement. In particular, we will not share your Genetic Information with insurance companies, employers, or third-party marketers without your express consent. The circumstances described below explain when sharing might occur:
People with whom your Information may be shared / Circumstances in which sharing might occur
Other Ancestry Users or others you may choose to share with
Any information you add to your Ancestry profile may be seen by other Ancestry users, as will public family tree details (we do not show living people in your tree to other users without your permission), and DNA matches (when you choose to see and be seen by your DNA matches).
If you share details of your family history or DNA experience outside the Services, you do so at your own risk.
We use other companies to help us provide the Services to you. As a result, these partner companies will have some of your information in their systems. Our partners are subject to contractual obligations governing data security and confidentiality consistent with this Privacy Statement and applicable laws.
These processing partners include our:
DNA test shipping providers;
Cloud services infrastructure providers;
Biological sample storage facilities;
Vendors that assist us in marketing; analytics, and fraud prevention; and,
Some Member Services functions.
We share your Genetic Information with research partners only when you provide us with your express consent to do so through our Informed Consent to Research.Research partners may include commercial or non-profit organizations that conduct or support scientific research, the development of therapeutics, medical devices or related material to treat, diagnose or predict health conditions. In some circumstances, a research partner or Ancestry may have a financial interest in the research arrangement. A list of our research partners can be found here.
Legal or Regulatory Process
We may share your Personal Information if we believe it is reasonably necessary to:
Comply with valid legal process (e.g., subpoenas, warrants);
Enforce or apply the Ancestry Terms and Conditions;
Protect the security or integrity of the Services; or
Protect the rights, property, or safety, of Ancestry, our employees or users.
If we are compelled to disclose your Personal Information to law enforcement, we will do our best to provide you with advance notice, unless we are prohibited under the law from doing so. In the interest of transparency, Ancestry produces a Transparency Report where we list the number of valid law enforcement requests for user data across all our sites.
If Ancestry is Acquired
If Ancestry or its businesses are acquired or transferred (including in connection with bankruptcy or similar proceedings), we will share your Personal Information with the acquiring or receiving entity. The promises in this Privacy Statement will continue to apply to your Personal Information that is transferred to the new entity.
A note about aggregated data
Ancestry may disclose user information in an aggregated form as part of the Services or our marketing, or in scientific publications published by us or our research partners. For example, we might note the percentage of immigrants in a State that are from a particular geographic region or country. Such disclosure will never include Personal Information.
8. Your Choices and Access to Your Personal Information
Subject to certain exceptions, you have a right to request access to your Personal Information and to be provided with a copy of certain information you provided in a portable form, as well as to seek to update, delete or correct this information by using the tools described below or by contacting Ancestry. Details and options for accessing this information are listed below.
You can access and update the Personal Information (such as your email address, username, profile information, etc.) that you provide to Ancestry at any time in the following sections of the privacy settings:
You can also control your information using the settings available in Ancestry’s mobile applications, such as the Ancestry, AncestryDNA or “We’re Related” apps.
Family Tree Information Download
Ancestry allows you to download your family tree information in the standard GEDCOM family tree file format in your Family Tree Settings.
Genetic Information Download
Your DNA Data belongs to you. You always have the option of downloading a file with your DNA Data. Learn how here. For more information on what is included in your DNA Data download, go here.
9. What are Ancestry’s retention practices?
Ancestry services are fundamentally premised on the notion that the personal voyage of self-discovery is not a one-time event and continues over lengthy periods of time—possibly lifetimes. Additionally, and with particular regard to our subscribers and DNA customers who pay fees or purchase subscriptions, the ongoing enhancement of Ancestry’s historical records and DNA features provide benefits and insights to our users over time. As a result, Ancestry’s retention practices reflect this ongoing value by retaining user accounts on our system until our users inform us of their desire delete to their data or close their accounts.
Category of Information
Ancestry will retain the Personal Information you provide while creating your account until such time as you ask us to close it.
Due to the multi-generational significance of family trees, Ancestry will retain your family tree data as needed to provide you with continuous access, updated features, and the ability to enhance your family tree.
Ancestry retains your DNA data as needed to provide you with the features and functionality you purchased (or were gifted), including continuously updated features such as DNA matches, increasingly granular ethnicity estimates and improved origins/migration details, as well as new other features based on your DNA data.
Ancestry’s related brands (Fold3, Newspapers.com,etc.) have their own account logins and will retain your account as needed to provide you with continuous and updated Services. You can delete these accounts at any time.
In some cases we choose to retain usage information (e.g., visits to sites) in a depersonalized or aggregated form. Once aggregated, this information ceases to be personal and will not be subject to Ancestry user deletion requests.
10. How can I delete my Personal Information?
You can delete your Personal Information from Ancestry in a number of ways.
How to delete
You can delete your Personal Information from Ancestry in a number of ways through the settings linked above.
If you require assistance deleting Personal Information you provided as part of your profile or subscription or from our blog or community forum, please submit a deletion request (including the exact wording of the information as it appears on the websites, and the URL where that information is found) to our Member Services team.
To the extent you have shared information through the Services (for example, by making your family trees public, or by sharing your DNA Results directly with other users), Ancestry will not be able to remove any copies of information that other Ancestry members may have retained.
Ancestry may hold records that contain your Personal Information that we are obligated to maintain as archives. Please direct any request to remove information from linked archival records to the responsible archival entity.
We will consider requests for removal of Personal Information from the searchable indexes of the records we hold on a case-by-case basis in accordance with law.
Some of your Personal Information may be included in other Ancestry members’ family trees, which will only be removed if the other Ancestry member deletes it.
Note: If you request that Ancestry delete your DNA Data, we will delete all Genetic Information, including any derivative Genetic Information (ethnicity estimates, genetic relative matches, etc.) from our production, development, analytics, and research systems within 30 days.To request the destruction of your biological samples, you must contact Member Services. Please note that if you have agreed to our Informed Consent to Research, we will not be able to remove your Genetic Information from active or completed research projects, but we will not use it for any new research projects.
Please note that there may be some latency in deleting your Personal Information from our backup systems after it has been deleted from our production, development, analytics, and research systems. Also, our laboratory partners may retain information they receive from us in order to comply with laws or regulations that may require them to do so, such as the Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments regulations administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ancestry may also retain certain information as reasonably necessary to comply with our legal obligations (including law enforcement requests), resolve disputes, maintain security, prevent fraud and abuse, as well as to comply with tax, payment industry, securities, and clinical regulatory compliance requirements.
Ancestry maintains a comprehensive information security program designed to protect our customers’ Personal Information using administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
The specific security measures used are based on the sensitivity of the Personal Information collected. We have measures in place to protect against inappropriate access, loss, misuse, or alteration of Personal Information (including Genetic Information) under our control.
Ancestry’s Security Team regularly reviews our security and privacy practices and enhances them as necessary to help ensure the integrity of our systems and your Personal Information.
We use secure server software to encrypt Personal Information (including Genetic Information), and we only partner with security companies that meet and commit to our security standards.While we cannot guarantee that loss, misuse or alteration of data will not occur, we use reasonable efforts to prevent this.
It is also important for you to guard against unauthorized access to your Personal Information by maintaining strong passwords and protecting against the unauthorized use of your own computer or device.
12. Data Transfer
Any transfer of your Personal and Genetic Information between Ancestry’s Ireland-based company and Ancestry’s U.S.-based company for processing in the United States is conducted pursuant to established transfer mechanisms such as Standard Contractual.
You can request a copy of any standard contractual clauses relating to your Personal Information that we may have executed by contacting us using the details below.
13. Changes to this Statement
We may modify this Privacy Statement at any time, but we will provide prominent advance notice of any material changes to this Statement, such as posting a notice through the Services, on our websites, or sending you an email, to provide you the opportunity to review the changes and choose whether to continue using the Services.
We will also notify you of non-material changes to this Statement as of their effective date by posting a notice through the Services, on our websites, or sending you an email. Your continued use of our Services after notice of non-material changes means that you consent to the updated Privacy Statement.
If you object to any changes, you may delete your account by contacting us here.
14. California’s Shine the Light Law
California Civil Code Section 1798.83, known as the “Shine the Light” law, permits Users who are California residents to request and obtain from us a list of what Personal Information (if any) we disclosed to third parties for their direct marketing purposes in the preceding calendar year and the names and addresses of those third parties. Requests may be made only once a year and are free of charge. Under Section 1798.83, Ancestry currently does not share any Personal Information with third parties for their own direct marketing purposes.
15. Legal basis under EU General Data Protection Regulation for processing personal information of EU residents.
Where you have consented to data processing, your consent provides the legal basis to process your Personal Information. We rely on your explicit consent to process your Genetic Information. You have the right to withdraw consent at any time. Please note that your withdrawal of consent to collect and process your Personal Information will not affect the lawfulness of processing your Personal Information based on your consent before you withdrew your consent.
We may also process your Personal Information on the basis of contractual necessity to perform a contract we have with you. For example, we process your credit card details when you provide them in order to use our Services or purchase access to premium features such as our DNA testing services.
We may also process your Personal Information on the basis of our legitimate interests, including in providing and improving the Services. For example, Ancestry has a legitimate interest in understanding your login history so we can assess your interaction with our Services. We also have a legitimate interest in providing and developing interesting features to provide to our users. We use your Personal Information to keep our Services safe and secure and we do so as it necessary to pursue your and our legitimate interests in ensuring that our Services are secure, and to protect against fraud, spam and abuse.
Where we rely on legitimate interests to process your Personal Information, you have the right to object to such processing (meaning that you can ask us to stop). You can use your Privacy Settings to control certain ways in which we process your data. You can also contact us, using the details below, to object to other forms of processing.
16. Identity and Contact Details of the Data
If you reside in the United States, Ancestry.com Operations Inc. and Ancestry.com DNA, LLC are responsible for the use of your data and for responding to any requests related to your Personal Information.
If you reside outside the United States, Ancestry Ireland Unlimited Company is your data controller.
Contact information for these entities is listed at the bottom of this Statement.
Users outside of the United States may contact the Irish Data Protection Commission, or your local Data Protection Authority.
We sure hope you all are doing well. We know that many of you that have taken the autosomal DNA test at FTDNA.com, 23andme.com , Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com are waiting patiently for that breakthrough of finding an Africa DNA match.
Some of us are not being so patient. Logging into the accounts 7 to 10 times daily, yelling at folks because we can’t find that match. Talking to ourselves AND responding.. Creeping up on your computer from the side, like agent 007…. Acting as if it is hiding that match from you. It’s OK. We’ve been there too. Please read a book or go fishing or something Shuga. More people are testing. We have to be patient. It took some of us over 7 YEARS to get an Africa DNA match. Oh but when we did!!!!
Now, we are not going to lie to you. We all know that there is NO GUARANTEE that you will find an Africa DNA match. Here are some ways to widen the net though. These helpful options are steps that I have taken myself. They have proven to be very helpful especially since many people have DNA tested at one company and have elected NOT to test at another.
There is a place where your DNA raw data can go and meet up with other people’s DNA raw data that tested at different DNA testing companies. You all can chillax for FREE!! OK.. Let me clarify…. Its like a meet up for ya raw data.
The goal is to upload your DNA raw data to the websites that you have not tested or to the sites like Gedmatch.com to help you compare shared segments on Chromosomes between you and others that have also uploaded.
Pharmaceutical Companies are not liking this at all.
Purchasers of 23andMe (http://www.23andMe.com) Health + Ancestry DNA test now have access to genetic health risk reports for conditions including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, Celiac disease and seven others.
This is a big step, if incremental, step forward for the company. Its DNA service initially provided ancestry information and genetic risk reports on about 250 conditions. In 2013, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop providing health-related information to US customers because the company hadn’t proven its test were analytically or clinically validated.
The new reports calculate genetic risk based on the presence (or absence) of specific markers in a person’s DNA. To obtain FDA authorization for them, 23andMe conducted “extensive validation studies for accuracy and user comprehensive that met FDA standards,” according to its announcement. FDA considered evidence tying each condition with relevant genetic markers in customers’ DNA.
Source: DNA Testing Advisor (www.dna-testing-adviser.com/african-dna-test) Access on May 18, 2017
Discover Your Roots
with an African DNA Test
Many African Americans and others are using an African DNA test to get answers about their ethnic ancestry.
Typical questions include the following:
How much of my genetic heritage is African?
What regions of Africa do my ancestors come from?
Where does the remainder of my heritage come from?
Is my African ancestry from my father’s lineage or my mother’s?
Do my physical features reflect African ancestry or something else?
Fortunately, there are several reasonably-priced African DNA tests that answer these and other questions about one’s ethnic ancestry.
The tests all use home test kits and sample collection is easy and painless. Depending on which company you use, you might wipe some cells from inside your cheek with a little swab or spit some saliva into a tube. No blood is required.
Here are my top seven recommendations for anyone interested in an African DNA test.
1. Ancestry DNA
AncestryDNA recently rose to the top of this list. Both men and women can take the test and it will identify other people in the database who share common ancestors with you. It is an autosomal test similar in technology to Family Finder and 23andMe, discussed below.
The test includes an Ethnicity Estimate that summarizes the percentage contributions of different regions of the world to your overall ancestry. That estimate now breaks African Ancestry into nine regions:
Ivory Coast / Ghana
Benin / Togo
Cameroon / Congo
Africa Southeast Bantu
Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers
This is the first widely recognized, legitimate DNA test to provide this detailed a breakdown of African ancestry
2. Family Finder, which includes Population Finder
Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test from Family Tree DNA. It’s widely used by genealogists, including those interested in African American genealogy.
The company will compare your DNA against a database of other users to find genetic matches. Most often these genetic matches will be cousins, having a common ancestor with you somewhere in the last five or so generations.
By emailing your matches you can connect with previously unknown relatives and learn much more about your family tree.
As part of the Family Finder test, you receive a myOrigins report, formerly called Population Finder, where the company compares your DNA with over 60 reference populations from around the world. This is a biogeographical analysis of the DNA you received from ALL of your ancestors.
The African part of your DNA may place you in any of four sub continental groups based on similarities to certain scientifically studied populations. The groups and populations are as follows:
Central African: Biaka Pygmy, Mbuti Pygmy
East African: Bantu (Kenya)
Southern African: Bantu (South Africa), San
West African: Mandenka, Yoruba
Very few people outside Africa are 100% African. Population Finder will classify the remaining portion of your ancestry using other populations.
3. Y-DNA Test at Family Tree DNA
Family Tree DNA also offers a Y-DNA test, which tracks your paternal line. Since only men have a Y-chromosome, only men can take this test. But women can still test a man from their paternal line, e.g. a brother, a father, a brother of your father, or a son of your father’s brother.
Like Family Finder, this test finds genetic matches who share a common ancestor. But with the Y-DNA test you know the common ancestor has to be a male in the direct paternal line like your father’s father’s father etc.
The Y-DNA test will also predict a man’s Y-DNA haplogroup. And many haplogroups are clearly tied to origins in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the real indicator of your paternal line’s ethnic ancestry.
TIP: If you’re interested in finding genetic matches, you should order the Y-DNA 37 test, which checks 37 markers. But if you’re only interested in determining your haplogroup, you only need 12 markers. I suggest you go to Family Tree DNA and look for the combination package of Family Finder plus Y-DNA 12. The combo price is an excellent buy.
If you later decide that you want to discover your precise position in the Y-DNA tree of life, you can upgrade to more markers or even order a Deep Clade test. That will tell you exactly which subclade of your haplogroup you’re in. In many cases this can tighten the geographic origins of your paternal line.
4. mtDNA Test at Family Tree DNA
Both men and women have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to test. But only women pass it on to their children. So mtDNA is the test to track your maternal line. That’s your mother’s mother’s mother etc.
As with the test described previously, you will probably see matches with other users. But mtDNA mutates so slowly that your common ancestors may have lived thousands of years ago. That makes mtDNA less useful than Y-DNA as a genealogy tool.
Still, mtDNA also has a haplogroup that relates directly to the origins of your maternal line. And some of those are clear indicators of African origin.
5. 23andMe Which Includes Ancestry Composition
23andMe is another autosomal DNA test like Family Finder. This test can also serve as an African DNA test, because it has an Ancestry Composition feature that tells you what parts of the world your ancestors lived a few hundred years ago.
This admixture report is similar to the Population Finder feature of the Family Finder test. It reports on African Ancestry from these three regions:
Central and South African
However, if you also test at least one of your parents on 23andMe, this test can split your ancestral percentages into your paternal and maternal sides.
23andMe also has a DNA Relatives feature that’s similar to Family Finder and it will estimate your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. So if you want to cover all your bases—then the 23andMe test can be a great value as an African DNA test.
6. Y-DNA and mtDNA Testing at African DNA
Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was a pioneer in African DNA testing. He founded African DNA to encourage more African Americans to get their DNA tested.
The company offers a Y-DNA test of 25 markers and an mtDNA test like the mtDNA Plus test at Family Tree DNA. In fact, Family Tree DNA is affiliated with the company and does their DNA testing.
Now they can also offer the Family Finder test that they renamed Ancestry Finder.
Note that African DNA only offers one paternal line Y-DNA test and one maternal line mtDNA test. They do not offer additional Y-DNA markers, the Full Mitochondrial Sequence (FMS) test, or Deep Clade testing. You need to order those tests directly from Family Tree DNA.
The African DNA web site does have more content specific to African DNA testing than any of the more general DNA testing companies. So I encourage anyone looking for an African DNA test to visit the site and learn all you can.
Uniquely, African DNA does offer some higher priced packages that combine DNA testing with genealogy research to build your family tree.
For most African-Americans there are no genealogical records prior to the 1870 census, when last names of former slaves began to be recorded. If you want someone to build a few generations of your family tree, however, this is an option to consider.
MONEY-SAVING TIP: If you’re not ordering a package with genealogy research, be sure to recheck Family Tree DNA to compare prices before placing an order with African DNA. At the time of this writing, you can order the same Y-DNA and mtDNA tests directly through Family Tree DNA for significantly less money.
7. Y-DNA and mtDNA Testing at African Ancestry
African Ancestry is another company that specifically features African DNA tests. Like the companies above, they check your Y-DNA and mtDNA to determine your paternal and maternal lineages. Since their web site does not provide details of either test, I cannot compare them.
Unlike Family Tree DNA, they do not keep a database of customer results, so you will not receive any matches to people with similar DNA. Since the company does not have an autosomal test like Family Finder and 23andMe, it cannot provide any admixture percentages. You won’t learn anything about ancestors outside your narrow paternal and maternal lines.
I found some interesting data on the web site. Even though this site specifically attracts people of African descent, 35% of the paternal line tests show European ancestry. Much of that non-African DNA was introduced into the family tree during the era of slavery. In addition, 8% of their maternal line samples show non-African haplogroups.
An article in the Wall Street Journal was critical of the African DNA test reports provided by this company. Independent experts say that mitochondrial DNA is not sufficient to nail down an ancestor’s origin to a specific country.
Furthermore, the large migrations of Africans over the last 3,000 years means that the typical black American’s DNA will match Africans living today in several countries. Even the founder of African DNA was quoted in the article that the country-specific reports his company provides are largely a “best guess.”
The testing prices at African DNA are higher than those of the companies listed above. Even if you have your African DNA test done elsewhere, the African Ancestry web site includes some interesting information on African heritage and a list of country-by-country resources in Africa for genealogists.
Other African DNA Tests of Uncertain Quality
DNA Tribes uses autosomal markers representing all your ancestors. But unlike AncestryDNA, Family Finder and 23andMe, which check nearly a million autosomal SNPs, DNA Tribes checks a maximum of 27 STRs.
I won’t try to explain the difference between an STR and a SNP here. But autosomal STRs are what police forces around the world have been collecting from criminals for decades.
The company examined 383,000 STR records and claims to have identified major genetic regions around the world. They compare your DNA with their proprietary database and issue reports on your most closely matched regions.
The company does not share its database or reveal its methods. And independent experts are skeptical when such detailed reports arise from so few markers.
Roots for Real offers Y-DNA, mtDNA, and an autosomal test based on 16 STR markers. They position their autosomal admixture test as an African DNA test. But their database is only about one third the size of the already questionable DNA Tribes test. And all of their tests are overpriced compared to market leaders Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry.com.
The male analog to the Mitochondrial Eve is the Y-chromosomal Adam, the member of Homo sapiens sapiens from whom all living humans are patrilineally descended. Rather than mtDNA, the inherited DNA in the male case is the nuclear Y chromosome. Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam need not have lived at the same time.
As of 2013, estimates for mt-MRCA and Y-MRCA alike are still subject to substantial uncertainty; thus, Y-MRCA has been estimated to have lived during a wide range of times from 180,000 to 581,000 years ago (with a most likely age of between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago, roughly consistent with the estimate for mt-MRCA).
The name “Mitochondrial Eve” alludes to biblical Eve. This has led to repeated misrepresentations or misconceptions in journalistic accounts on the topic. The title of “Mitochondrial Eve” is not permanently fixed to a single individual, but rather shifts forward in time over the course of human history as maternal lineages become extinct. Unlike her biblical namesake, she was not the only living human female of her time. However, by the definition of Mitochondrial Eve, her female contemporaries, though they may have descendants alive today, do not have any descendants today who descend in an unbroken female line of descent.
Genetics Project” Update April 15, 2017 Published by 23andMe under 23andMe Research, Ancestry October, 2016
To enhance its research and enrich its customer experience, 23andMe is launching the African Genetics Project, Africa_icon recruiting people who emigrated from, or whose parents emigrated from several specific countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa is the birthplace of all humanity, and its people are the most genetically diverse in all the world, yet our knowledge of that diversity is limited. This newest project follows continuing efforts by 23andMe to enrich our understanding of the human story and increase diversity in genetic research, while also providing more detailed ancestry results for 23andMe customers with recent African ancestry.
23andMe’s African Genetics Project is offering kits at no cost to people with all four of their grandparents born in the same African country or from the same ethnic or tribal group within one of the following countries — Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory coast, Liberia, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo. The west African countries in that list are a priority for 23andMe because the majority of slaves brought from Africa to the Americas were brought from these African locations. We are also gathering data from individuals with all four grandparents from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia to aid in identifying ancestry for more recent immigrants and to improve our reference populations for Africa.
This effort is unique in many respects, but primarily because it allows people of African ancestry who know where in Africa their family came from, to help others with African ancestry discover more about their own African roots. The effort may also yield insights into the TransAtlantic slave trade, and migrations within Africa over the last few hundred years.
While the goals of this project are focused primarily on improving ancestry insights, the African Genetics Project is part of a long list of efforts undertaken by 23andMe to improve diversity in research. Some estimates show that more than 90 percent of the research into the genetics underlying disease is on individuals of European descent alone, but for many conditions an individual’s ethnicity plays an important role and the insights from those studies fall short of helping people of other backgrounds.
There are a number of reasons for the lack of diversity — historical, cultural, economic and social — but by reaching out and recruiting people from all backgrounds it will also ensure that everyone benefits from advances in genetic science.
Over the last five years, 23andMe has undertaken several initiatives on that front including its Roots Into the Future project to study the genetics of disease impacting African Americans, the first-ever genetic portrait of the United States that mapped the country’s Native American, African and European ancestry, and more recently a NIH-funded project to develop a new way to detect disease causing genetic variants among ethnically mixed populations.
Taken together, these initiatives have helped 23andMe improve diversity in its research. The African Genetics Project is part of that same effort and it will allow 23andMe to identify genetic similarities of people from specific locations in Africa. This in turn will not only improve what we can tell our customers with African ancestry, but will also aid our research into how people migrated within and from Africa over the last 5,000 years.
Despite living a very short life, Henrietta Lacks is one of the most important people in the history of medicine. Lacks’ cells, known as the HeLa cell line, are mysteriously immortal and have been used by scientists and researchers all over the world to study and develop cures for a plethora of diseases. For decades, Lacks and her family were not given any recognition for her contribution to the medical field, but, in recent years, Henrietta Lacks’ legacy has been credited for saving the lives of millions.
Henrietta Lacks was born as Loretta Pleasant in Roanoke, Virginia in August 1920 to Johnny and Eliza Pleasant, both African American. No one is aware when she changed her name to Henrietta from Loretta. Lacks’ mother died when she was only five, and she was then sent to live in Clover, Virginia with her grandfather in a log cabin that was previously the slave quarters on her white great-grandfather’s plantation.1 While slavery was still legal, Lacks’ white great-grandfather took a slave mistress, thus starting Henrietta’s family line of black Lackses.2 When she was old enough, Lacks began farming tobacco on the plantation like the rest of her family.
Lacks gave birth to her first child soon after her fourteenth birthday, and the father of the child was her first cousin, David “Day” Lacks.3 Henrietta and Day named their first son Lawrence and, four years later, Lacks gave birth to her second child and first daughter, Eliza. On April 10, 1941, Henrietta, age 20, married Day, age 25. Soon after their marriage, Day moved to Baltimore to take advantage of the large amount of opportunity in the steel factories during World War II, and Henrietta and the two children soon followed.
While living in Baltimore, Henrietta gave birth to three more children. She “spent her time cooking for Day, the children, and whichever cousins happened to be at her house. She made her famous rice pudding and slow-cooked greens, chitlins, and the vats of spaghetti with meatballs she kept going on the stove for whenever cousins dropped by hungry.”4 One of her friends reflected that “Hennie made life come alive—bein with her was like bein with fun. Hennie just love peoples. She was a person that could really make the good things come out of you.”5Although Henrietta Lacks held the ability to make the good come out of people, something lethal was growing inside her body. She began telling her family and friends that she had a knot in her womb or that she was bleeding even though it was not her time of the month.6After feeling something strange on her cervix, Lacks knew it was imperative for her to go visit a doctor.
Lacks made an appointment at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and her biopsy results determined that she had Stage I epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix, or cervical cancer. The doctor that examined her found it incredibly interesting that even though she had no cervical abnormalities when she delivered a baby at Hopkins three months prior, she now returned to the hospital with a cancerous tumor.7 After the mass was diagnosed as cancerous, Lacks was instructed to return to the hospital to begin radium treatment. Radium was known to cause cancer, but it was also known to kill cancer. Unfortunately, it was also known to burn the skin, which is exactly what happened to Lacks during her treatment. Those close to her were horrified when Lacks confided in them the damage from her treatment, telling them that “Lord it just feels like that blackness be spreadin all inside me.”8
That “blackness,” her cancer, was actually spreading all inside her. In August 1951, Lacks returned to Hopkins, asking to be admitted because her pain was unbearable. She died a grim death on October 4, 1951 at age 31 from cancer that had metastasized throughout her entire body. Lacks was buried in a wooden box in an unmarked grave in Clover, Virginia. What Henrietta Lacks and her family did not know, however, was that she would live on forever through her cells. During her cancer treatment at Johns Hopkins, her doctor took healthy and cancerous samples from Lacks’ cervix without informing her of his actions or getting consent from her, and gave them to George Gey, a cancer researcher. This was standard practice, and, at the time of Lacks’s death, there were no state or federal laws regarding obtaining consent from any patient.9 Gey was constantly analyzing human cells in an effort to create the perfect culture medium, or the liquid used for feeding cells. After being placed in a Petri dish, the cells would usually die within a few hours, but Gey found that Henrietta’s cells did something amazing. Her cells kept reproducing.
Gey started his own cell line, which he named HeLa in tribute to Henrietta Lacks. Neither Gey nor his assistant revealed the name of the original owner of the immortal cell line, thus making Lacks’ name unknown to the public. The medical breakthroughs from the usage of HeLa cells quickly began after Lacks’ death. A scientist named Jonas Salk proclaimed that he had found a cure to polio but needed to test the vaccine first. Salk acquired some HeLa cells, and, in 1954, Salk released the vaccine that prevented polio. Millions of lives were saved from this disease, thanks to the testing performed on the HeLa cells.
Since Gey did not patent his HeLa cells, labs all over the world soon began obtaining these unique cells for research and experiments. HeLa cells even went to space when the United States wanted to test how human cells would react in zero gravity, and were used to determine the affects of the atomic bomb.10 Scientists used HeLa cells to study molecular biology, virology, and genetics. Lacks’ cells were also used for research on cancer, AIDS, and, more recently, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Vaccines and drugs for diseases such as herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease were also developed through testing done on HeLa cells.
Henrietta Lacks’ cells were being used to make scientific breakthroughs beyond many researchers’ wildest dreams, but her family was unaware of Henrietta’s contribution to science. In 1953, a reporter at the Minneapolis Star claimed that the HeLa cells belonged to a woman named Henrietta Lakes, alerting people for the first time that these were human cells.11 Other reporters claimed that HeLa stood for Helen Lane or Helen Larson.12 Either way, the name Henrietta Lacks was never published, and the Lacks family was unaware that Henrietta’s cells were being circulated around the globe until 1973.
One day in 1973, Bobbette Lacks, Lawrence’s wife, was having lunch with her friend and her friend’s brother-in-law. The brother-in-law and Bobbette discovered that they were from the same part of Baltimore, and Bobbette told him that her last name was Lacks. Her friend’s brother-in-law told Bobbette that he worked at the National Cancer Institute and that he had been working for years with cells in his lab that he just recently learned belonged to a woman named Henrietta Lacks. Bobbette soon learned that this man, like many others around the world, had her mother-in-law’s cells in their labs.13 Thus began the anger, confusion, and frustration that would consume the Lacks family for decades.
The Lacks family, still living in Baltimore City, was impoverished and in poor health. They were being harassed by doctors and researchers for blood samples and developed a serious mistrust of Johns Hopkins Hospital. They felt that they had been robbed by Hopkins and thought that Henrietta was still alive and her body was being held hostage in the hospital. Some members of the family thought that suing the hospital for taking a part of Henrietta without her consent or knowledge was the proper path, but they would soon learn their case was fruitless. Around the same time the Lacks family discovered the truth about the HeLa cells, a Californian man named Roger Moore was attempting to sue his doctor for unknowingly scraping his cells and profiting from them. The case finally reached the Supreme Court of California, and the court ruled that “When tissues are removed from your body, with or without your consent, any claim you might have had to owning them vanishes. When you leave tissues in a doctor’s office or a lab, you abandon them as waste, and anyone can take your garbage and sell it.”14 This ruling set a precedent, stripping a large amount of power away from patients and legally allowing doctors and researchers to financially exploit their patients if they discovered something medically groundbreaking. This opened a global debate about bioethics, but also left the Lacks’ family without a legal case.
In 1997, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) came to Baltimore to interview the Lacks family for a documentary about the HeLa cells’ role in cancer research. This gained some publicity about the woman behind the HeLa cells, and, in the same year, then United States Representative Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. formally addressed Congress about Lacks, saying that “Henrietta Lacks’ selfless contribution to the field of medicine has gone without acknowledgement for far too long. Her cells made her immortal: through her death, countless others have been saved by the research that was made possible through her cell line…I sincerely hope her name will also be immortalized as one of courage, hope, and strength, and that due recognition will be given to her role in medicine and science.”15 Henrietta’s enormous contribution to decades of science was recognized, but true justice for Henrietta still seemed hopeless.
Hope came to the Lacks family a few years later in the form of a young, white, female writer named Rebecca Skloot. Skloot became fascinated with the mystery behind the HeLa cells at age sixteen and spent many years trying to uncover the story behind the immortal cells. The Lacks, understandably, were mistrusting of Skloot and her motives. Skloot, however, proved to be faithful to the family in regards to spreading their story, and she became the closest with Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah. Deborah never knew her mother but always wanted to understand what happened to her. Through Deborah, Skloot was able to better understand the struggles of the family and tell the story of Henrietta, and through Skloot, Deborah was able to learn about her mother and even hold her cells. Skloot published The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 2010 and describes the book as “not only the story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks, but of Henrietta’s family—particularly Deborah—and their lifelong struggle to make peace with the existence of those cells, and the science that made them possible.”16 The novel became an instant best-seller and was even comissioned by Oprah Winfrey to be made into a movie. The Lacks family was finally given the recognition they struggled for years to gain.
In 2013, 62 years after Henrietta’s death, the Lackses were finally able to have a voice in the distribution of HeLa cells. Controversy began again in early 2013 after a German lab published the HeLa genome in an online magazine. The German research lab published the paper “to show the degree to which the genomes of HeLa cells diverged from those of healthy cells, so researchers could take that into account when designing experiments and analyzing results from studies using the HeLa cell line,” but the Lacks family worried that others would be able to formulate their genetic codes through this public information.17 The article was taken down, but the Lackses still felt their biological information was being distributed without their consent and that “history was repeating itself” since anyone could get a hold of Henrietta’s genomes.18 In August 2013, an agreement between the Lackses and the National Institute of Health (NIH) was formulated, decreeing that scientists had to obtain permission from the NIH in order to conduct research on HeLa cells. The NIH and two members of the Lacks family would approve or reject the applications as they saw fit. Finally, the Lacks family could stop the outright exploitation of Henrietta.
Henrietta Lacks did not live a long life, but her cells will live on forever. She has had a greater impact on science than any other scientist or researcher will ever claim, and her cells have been used to save the lives of a countless number of people and animals. As the most important person in medicine, and as a former Maryland resident, Henrietta Lacks will be immortalized as an important Maryland woman through her induction into the 2014 Women’s Hall of Fame.
Henrietta Lacks Women’s Hall of Fame 2014 Nomination Packet. Return to text
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Almost every article I have read on Genetic Genealogy, there have been comments or reviews from readers stating their frustration and confusion understanding the literature by well intended authors.
This chapter will began to focus on Y-DNA testing, which is the oldest test. Before we get started, lets look at your goals for testing to make sure you are clear. I suggest you write out your goals.
Do you have a general idea or just a curiosity about genetic genealogy or is your focus more specific? Consider the following questions:
Are you primarily interested in researching your surname?
Are there specific brick walls (you feel you can not research further) that you wish to target with the use of DNA testing. (African-American getting beyond 1860)
How far back in your family tree are these brick walls? (This is a serious question for African-American genealogy researchers.)
What is the ancestral pattern back to these walls, i.e. – mother’s mother’s mother’s, mother or father’s mother’s mother’s father’s, father’s father’s father?
Are you ready for a long-time project or do you desire quick answers? (Long-time projects are best suited for this type of work. Quick answers tend to create mistake after mistake.)
Are there adoptions in your family tree that you would like to explore. (this is another heavy one for African-Americans. A lot of slaves could not read, write or speak English clearly who became free after the Civil War down south and north as well. Many migrated North and West looking for work and places for their families leaving their children with friends, neighbors or just disappearing under unusual circumstances. The people that kept theses children change their names or adopted them unofficially. Example: John Wilson and his family on the plantation may have changed to Amos Myatt and family. The DNA did not change. Understanding this and working through this is a challenge to any African-American researcher. This takes a real slow process of researching and genealogical detective work to find the connection.
Is your primary interest receiving a percentage breakdown of your ancestral origins or “Ethnicity”?
Currently there are tests geared at isolating types of DNA that can address these questions and others. They are the Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the autosomal DNA (atDNA). Y-DNA has been in use the longest and has the best track record for helping genealogists demolish those proverbial brick walls.
Y-DNA refers to the DNA found on the Y chromosome. Only males inherit the Y chromosome, so this test can only be used to trace the direct paternal line. A father inherits his Y chromosome from his father who inherits it from his father who inherits it from his father and on and on. Ancient origins of a person’s direct paternal line.
Example from Ancestry.com DNA test results my line. Johns’ family paternal line.
Unlike all other chromosomes, the Y chromosome does not undergo extensive recombination before it is passed down to the next generation. There can be some recombination between the two tips of the Y and X chromosomes, but those regions are not used for genetic genealogy.
The unique inheritance pattern of Y-DNA offers both advantages and limitations when applying test results to a genealogical problem. The lack of recombination means that the same Y-DNA footprint is passed down for many generations, allowing a line to be traced many generations back in time. The fact that the same Y-DNA footprint is passed down for many generations is a major advantage when trying to determine if a patrillineal line was a specific biogeographical origin, such as African or Native American. The origin-identifying markers will not be diluted by recombination and will persist through all generations.
Types of Y-DNA Testing
There are two main types of Y-DNA testing for genetic genealogy: Short Tandem Repeat (STR) and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP).
These test look at different kinds a markers, provide different information, and have different uses and limitations. I will take up more on this subject in the intermediate and advanced chapters at later time.