DNA genealogy research

I've become a DNA junky. In the last 5 years I've had my entire genome sequenced as part of Harvard University's Personal Genome project, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, ancestry.com. I've also convinced over 20 relatives and a few friends to take the test.


February 27, 2015

I think I'm mainly a Nihilist but aspire to be a Sage in the cartoon below. With the DNA testing I've done and the number of databases I'm in, privacy is a lost cause. Fortunately I don't think I have anything that interesting for people to find and I have a hope that I'm helping other people.

Family Tree DNA

February 27, 2015

I've tested the greatest number of people on ftdna.com. Partly this is because they have the best tools for DNA analysis, partly because it is where I started, and partly because it is the easiest test to do. Many of the companies require spitting into a tube. ftdna has cheek swabs which are quick and easy to use.

All of the companies have an autosomal DNA test. ftdna also does Y str and mtDNA testing. See the links at the right for some background about what this means. The mtDNA is passed down from the mother to both of her children. Hence one can trace back from your mother to her mother, etc, back to DNA Eve. However it has the least information and the surname changes each generation so is hard to track.

Y str or SNP testing is more useful and very helpful when you are a male and tracing your surname. The Y is passed unchanged from father to son. ftdna supports a large number of projects to group people together around DNA tests and something they have in common. The most interesting to me is the Smith surname project. My paper genealogy dead ends at Clark SMith b 1780 a 3rd great grandfather. I haven't found a living Smith descendant of him except my brother and I. There are over 2000 Smiths in the Smith DNA project and I'm not closely related to them.

Ian McDonald manages a project of people that have a Y chromosome most closely related to mine. I'm in what he calls the Graham clan of the King's cluster DF98. Even in this small sub group I'm in my own single group. The next chart has a lot of information in it. You can find me on the tree by finding the Graham clan, going down and to the right at the first branch. With all of the people that have been DNA tested, there isn't yet anyone that has a common ancestor with me for 2000 years or so.

King's cluster


February 19, 2015

Several years ago I joined the Personal Genome Project. The PGP was founded by George Church from Harvard university. They have a goal of sequencing tens of thousands of genomes, then making them public, along with their phenotpes; height, weight, MRIs, health surveys, ...

My genome was sequenced and made public over a year ago. I found out that I have one copy of the APOE4 allele which makes me at least twice as likely as the average European to develop Alzheimer's disease by the time I'm 75.