Friday, September 6, 2013

Where is Genetic Genealogy Going? Who is Driving the Agenda?

Several indicators suggest the genetic genealogy marketplace is in a state of flux. So what else is new?

What impact will the departure of Thomas and Astrid Krahn from FTDNA have on the company’s commitment to further explore the Y-chromosome? This is a particularly interesting question at a time when FullGenomes is on the verge of having actual customer results from its pricey first round of tests of the full Y-chromosome.
After the dust clears from the separation of Anne Wojcicki from Sergey Brin, it appears likely that 23andMe will not be seriously affected. Even though it is Anne’s company, it has been Sergey’s billions and Parkinson’s gene that have been the driving forces behind this company’s growth.
DNA testing has not been incorporated into any of the first seven segments of Who Do You Think You Are? Ancestry is a principal sponsor and the company's databases are prominently featured in most episodes. If it is Ancestry’s business plan to grow the DNA side of its business, this is a strange way to go about it.

Not to be left on the sidelines, Geno 2.0 apparently is fine tuning its marketing focus. Emphasis on the sale of its public participation kits will be concentrated in the English speaking world which in general is already to most tested part of the world.

Regional commercial ventures are springing up in various parts of the UK.

All of this makes it clear that our agenda is being set by commercial entities. That’s not bad. We would be nowhere without the framework they have created. Most of us do not want it to be set by various world governments which may be the primary alternative to the free enterprise system.

Where do you want our community to go in the next decade? Probably the next six months is a more reasonable time frame for a business plan in this marketplace. Or is it? How can we as consumers, both individually and collectively, best communicate our ideas – dare I say dreams – as to where we want genetic genealogy to move next? Does ISOGG have an opportunity for a more proactive role? Are there other venues for this discussion?


  1. Dave:

    A timely post. Another driver is the interests of the scientific and medical community represented by the Ancestry Inference Roundtable meeting next week at the American Society of Human Genetics offices in Washington, D.C. This meeting is closed door by invitation only. I understand that the genetic genealogy community will be represented among the others. These kind of hidden meetings by erstwhile gatekeepers also take the driving force from our hands. I look forward to learning the result of the meeting and its impact on genetic genealogy.


    Steven C. Perkins

  2. Thank you Steven. I too am very interested in what will be going on behind those closed doors at the ASHG Roundtable. I know Katherine Hope Borges and CeCeMoore will be attending. I believe Kathy Johnston, Tim Janzen and one or two other members of ISOGG were also invited. I share some of the concerns of ASHG members who are concerned about some of the deep ancestry inferences currently being made by testing labs. At present this is probably the squishiest part of DNA testing for family history purposes. It does need to be tightened up a little before we can have great confidence of these projections. But like all processes we must creep before we crawl, crawl before we walk and walk before we run. I just hope we do not lose credibility from the inevitable stumbles that will occur along the way.