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The 4th annual Consumer Genetics Conference in Boston, Massachusetts is a gathering of hundreds of thought leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs with a shared interest in the field of genetics. Our own Dr. Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA, was invited to give a keynote presentation on the AncestryDNA product, how it works, and what its latest innovations mean for the future of genetics.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key messages from Ken’s presentation:
Genetic ethnicity discovered
Most of what people know about their ethnicity is based on their family trees. “Where was Grandma from? Spain? Okay, I’m Spanish.” But your AncestryDNA genetic ethnicity results can paint a deeper picture, one that connects you with the migrations and histories of the regions of the world over the past 500 to 2,000 years. For example, many customers from Southern Europe are surprised to see results indicating a small amount of North African heritage. But against the historical backdrop of Moorish influence on the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, it makes perfect sense. People did a lot of migrating, invading, and colonizing throughout history, which makes the job of predicting ethnicity challenging, but always interesting. The same is true for people of the British Isles who find they have a surprisingly high percentage of Scandinavian ethnicity compared to the birth locations of people in their family tree ‑ it is probably reflecting a deeper ancestry.
DNA member matching
Researching family history is not just always about finding ancestors, but sometimes living relatives as well. AncestryDNA matching has delivered over a half million 1st-4th cousin relationships to our members. A simple, yet powerful interface allows users to easily review potential DNA matches and quickly access public member trees to verify the connection. In addition, over 100,000 shared ancestors have been found between AncestryDNA users. Hints to shared ancestors do the work for you to find the link in your family tree on Ancestry.com and our simple interface shows exactly where this new ancestor fits.
Confident connections made through DNA
Matching confidence at AncestryDNA is built on a groundbreaking analysis performed by the AncestryDNA geneticists, partnered with the experts from the Sorenson Molecular Genomics Foundation team. This analysis, performed in the lab, is seen on your very own web browser, translated as “confidence” levels provided in your AncestryDNA results. So, when you get a 4th cousin DNA match that shows as 96% confident, know that information is based on a highly scientific analysis to help you take action with your DNA results.
What’s new for 2013
AncestryDNA believes that our customers have the right to their own genetic data. It is your DNA, after all. So we’re working to provide access to your raw DNA data in early 2013, which includes related security enhancements to ensure its safety during every step of the process. Moving forward, we plan to add even more tools and improvements for our customers, and any new features will be available to all AncestryDNA members.
We’d like to thank the organizers and attendees of the Consumer Genetics Conference 2012. We plan to continue to be a part of the genetics landscape moving forward and will be at more events, including the American Society of Human Genetics in San Francisco, where we will present some amazing new discoveries that our scientists have been working on.