Digging Up Dad, Exhumation and Forensic Testing Alternatives

Dad in suit

I didn’t do it.  I really didn’t.  Ok, I wanted to, but I didn’t.

Yes, I seriously considered exhuming my father.  Ok, now that you’ve stopped gasping, let me tell you about the story, and what I did instead, and how successful it was, and wasn’t.

My father, William Sterling Estes, died in a car accident in 1963.  That means he’s been dead now for 50 years, half a century.  Depending on the source, he had between 2 and several children.  His obituary names me as his daughter, then inadvertently mixed up my mother, his x-wife’s name with that of his sister.  So my mother is listed as my father’s sister in his obit and his sister isn’t listed at all.  Neither is his other daughter, my half-sister.  For any of you who follow my family story, you already know it’s bizarre, so this unfortunate error should come as no surprise and would only provide Jeff Foxworthy with fodder for his “you might be….if” series.

But, as you’ll see, that obituary is part of the problem and so is the fact that he has been dead 50 years now.  That’s 50 years for his DNA to degrade.

My father was, well, ahem, somewhat of a playboy.  I keep finding children, and rumors of children, scattered about as I kept researching.  I keep waiting for a solid half-sibling match to some poor unsuspecting person on one of these autosomal tests too.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m just sure that one day it will.

And I haven’t published my blog article on Ilo yet, but suffice it to say that if you know of an Ilo (or maybe Flo?) who had a male child about 1920 in or near Battle Creek, Michigan and was briefly “married” to William Sterling Estes who was serving at Camp Custer at the time….I need to talk to you.

Now you’d think with all of these alleged children, there would be a male child to test, but the only male child I knew of back when DNA testing began was the male child of Ilo who I have never been able to identify, let alone locate.  I hadn’t found my “brother” Dave yet at that time, but as it turned out, Dave’s DNA did not match the Estes line anyway, so that would have been a red herring.

My Estes line out of Claiborne County Tennessee, for all of the males in earlier generations, dwindled to only a few, then to none in my generation.  The best I could do was a descendant of a male 3 or 4 generations upstream in my tree, and where there are paternity questions in more recent generations, a descendant from up the tree isn’t helpful, or wasn’t before autosomal testing.

Ah yes, that paternity question.  You see, it wasn’t definite.  A descendant tested the Y chromosome, and he was off just enough markers to be considered a problematic match.  But, it was enough to introduce doubt.  And doubt is a horrible nag for a companion – especially for the family genealogist who has spent the past three and a half decades working on this “doubtful” family.  In other words, OMG!!!  This was the genealogical equivalent of a panic attack.  And what could I do?  There was no one else to test.

On the chart below, the green line is the Estes ancestral line, as we know it today, proven by both genetics and genealogy.  The purple is the anonymous participant that tested and had the questionable match to the green ancestral Estes line.  The yellow group was then “suspect” because of the questionable match.  When I found David, supposedly my father’s son, and he tested, matching neither the purple participant nor the Estes ancestral line, it nearly put me over the edge.  My cousin, Buster agreed to test, which confirmed the ancestral Estes line back to Lazarus, which left the yellow still in the questionable realm.  There were no living males to test in the yellow line.

Digging up dad 1

So, I considered exhuming Dad.  That possible paternity issue had shaken me, pretty much to the bone, and I desperately wanted to know.  Was I barking up the wrong tree?  Was my Dad not my Dad, but David’s Dad?  David and I clearly were not genetic half-siblings, suggested at that time by CODIS testing, but proven eventually by 23andMe testing.  Was my Dad not the child of his father, William George?  Was his father maybe not the child of his father, Lazarus?  Why did my grandfather not look like the other Estes men?  We knew that John R. Estes matched the ancestral Estes line, but we had no one else to test below John R. on the tree.

Below, my great-great-grandfather, John Y. Estes, at left, my great-grandfather, Lazarus, center and my grandfather, William George, at right.

Digging up dad 2

Why did my son look so much like my father?  Was I just seeing things that weren’t there?  Below, my father as a teen in his military uniform and my son about the same age.

digging up dad 3

Without a male to test the Estes Y-line DNA, how would I ever know?

One day, a package arrived in the mail.  My step-mother had died some years ago, and her daughter had found a group of letters in her mother’s belongings that she felt I should have.  Among those letters were letters from my grandfather to my father.

Letters?  Envelopes?  Stamps?  Saliva?  DNA?  JACKPOT!!!  WOOHOOOO!!!!!!!

At the time my grandfather mailed those letters to my father, in the 1960s, my grandfather was living alone, so he should have licked the envelope and the stamp himself.

I called Bennett Greenspan at Family Tree DNA.  He referred me to a private lab that “does things like this,” called Trace Genetics.  Before you start googling, the company was subsequently sold and has now been defunct for years.  However, at that time they were doing custom processing of private forensic samples.

Yes, anything like that is considered forensic.  Anything you have to extract DNA from before you can have it processed in a regular lab is forensic work.

So, I got an estimate, took out a loan, and told them to go ahead.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  The cost was in the $2000 range FOR EACH ATTEMPT.  So, we tried the envelope first.  No DNA.  Then we tried the stamp.  We got DNA, but it was female, so we knew it was contaminant DNA.  Think of how many people handle an envelope in the processing and delivery of mail, not to mention all the people who had handled it since.  Then we tried a second envelope.  No dice.

I was beyond frustrated and so were the two wonderfully patient scientists I was working with at Trace Genetics.  We all desperately wanted DNA.  In all fairness, they told me very clearly up front that there was a less than 50% chance of obtaining  ANY DNA, let alone usable DNA, let alone Y-line DNA.  Yes, the odds were very much stacked against me, and I knew it.

Y-line DNA is the least obtainable.  Most forensic work is done using mitochondrial DNA.  That’s because in each cell there is a total of 1 Y chromosome and there are thousands of mitochondria.  So the chances of recovering mitochondria are much greater than a Y chromosome.

Still, I had to try.  If you’re thinking of the word obsessed, I certainly wouldn’t argue with you.

Then I remembered, I had my father’s VFW hat.  I had it stored away in an old train case with other memorabilia from my childhood.  That was the one and only thing of my father’s I ever had – that hat.  I still remember him wearing it and I remember going to the VFW hall with him.  They had a slot machine and sometimes he used to let me pull the arm on the machine.  That was great fun.

I asked my friendly scientist at Trace Genetics what to do with the hat.  He suggested that I look for hairs in the interior of the hat, under the hatband, and then he told me how to extract the hair without touching it myself using sterile gloves.  I did so, put the hair in a Kleenex, put the Kleenex in an envelope and overnighted it to Trace Genetics.  This hair had the all-important follicle attached, the only part of the hair that will provide DNA.

I was positive, just positive, that this time was the jackpot.  But it wasn’t, and neither was the next hair.

Are you adding up the numbers in your mind?  Well, I assure you, I was adding them up.  And it wasn’t the money that bothered me, but the lack of results.  I was devastated.

Dad tombstone

So, I considered exhumation.  I looked into it, and I discovered a couple of things that were very important and were likely show-stoppers.

  1. In order to exhume someone, you have to petition the court and give a reason.  Then, you have to obtain the written, notarized, permission from every single descendant.  Yes, I said EVERY SINGLE DESCENDANT.  If even one disagrees, or refuses, it’s done, a deal-killer, dead.
  2. The cost of said exhumation is about $20,000 including all expenses, like attorney fees, backhoe, medical examiner, etc..

Choke, sputter, cough….clutching chest….

I happened to know someone who actually did exhume their ancestor, not for DNA testing, but because the cemetery was going to wind up at the bottom of a lake.  And yes, the entire process did cost in the neighborhood of 20K, a price-tag they did not anticipate in advance nor expect.

I had my doubts that any court would approve an exhumation for obtaining DNA for genealogy, but they might approve it to move the grave to Tennessee where my father’s family was buried.  Dad was (and is) buried alone in Indiana.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But to move him, the cost of the exhumation would increase exponentially.  Moving a body which is considered medical waste is not inexpensive.  By way of comparison, to bring my sister home from Arizona to Michigan for burial was in the neighborhood of 10K.  And that would have been in addition to the 20K for exhumation.

For a minute, I thought about my brother, Dave, the long haul truck driver and I wondered if he had any room in that truck between pallets of yogurt.  But I got a grip on myself before asking him. I had visions of Dave putting Dad back in the sleeper cab…but I digress.

Ok, now we were talking the price of a car or a small house…a vacation home maybe or a trip around the world.  And it wasn’t 2K at a time, but an all or nothing proposition.

Not only did I not have the 20K or 30K, I couldn’t justify borrowing it, so I decided to leave sleeping Dad’s lie, so to speak.

I also decided that really, while I desperately did want to know about the paternity issue and its resolution, that I’m an Estes no matter what.  It’s my maiden name, it’s my name now that I’m married (I married a Kvochick, need I say more) and it will be my name on my tombstone.  So, I’m an Estes no matter whether I descended from them genetically or not.

I intentionally have not addressed any moral or ethical issues about exhumation.  Some feel the dead should be left alone, undisturbed.  However, there is precedent… the Catholic church regularly exhumes their saints to see if the body is well preserved.  I didn’t know what to think, truthfully, along those lines, and before I could have and would have actually made that decision, I would have had to think long and hard about it.  Would I have been there for the exhumation?  Could I have stayed away?  Would I have wanted to see my father like that?  All questions I would have had to answer, but did not have to, because the other issues precluded exhumation.

The first issue I would have encountered was who, exactly, were his descendants, and how, exactly, legally, was that determined?  I mean, does the court go by the obituary?  If so, my mother was his sister.  But I had a real half-sister.  Was she included?  No place did it say that she was his descendant.  He didn’t have a will.  And what about the children we knew about but couldn’t find?  Would that preclude the exhumation?  Or should we just stay quiet about them?  No, too many ethical issues and thorny problems, and that is BEFORE you get to the money issue.

I’m glad I didn’t slog through that mess, because before long, autosomal testing came about – not CODIS testing – which was inconclusive at best – but wide spectrum testing using hundreds of thousands of DNA positions, today’s 23andMe and Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder tests.

I have several Estes cousins who aren’t direct male lines but who who are fairly close genetically and I’m not related to any of them through any other genealogical lines.  If I matched them, it would be proof positive that I indeed was a blood descendant of the Estes line.  I wasn’t happy testing just one or two, so I tested 5 or 6 of my cousins from different children of my great and great-great-grandfather – and yes, I did indeed match all of them.

What a relief!  I didn’t have to dig up Dad or spend the equivalent of a couple years of college education.

But for those who are indeed as desperate as I was, let me tell you the following.

  1. There are very few labs that will do this kind of processing.  It is very unpopular as you basically have to shut the entire lab, sanitize it, and run no other tests until you are done.  You can see a forensic lab clean room in Ripan Malhi’s lab at the University of Illinois.
  2. Best case, with a relatively recent sample, meaning one from someone who died recently, you have about a 50% chance of useable DNA retrieval.  That’s BEST CASE.
  3. Skin is good.  The best is an electric razor contents.  Do NOT touch them.  Put the entire razor with contents into a plastic bag and DO NOT seal it.  Keep it in a temperature stable environment.  No attic or basement.   Sometimes hairbrushes have skin flakes in with the hair.
  4. Hearing aids are good.  Again, do not touch, etc.  Blood is good.  Spit is good.  A Kleenex is wonderful, providing you are sure it is their Kleenex.  If your mother was like my mother, check her bathrobe pockets.
  5. Older things like hair, sweat, envelopes etc. are not so good.  The older the sample, the less likely you’ll be able to retrieve DNA.  It degrades with time and these aren’t particularly good to begin with.
  6. Digging up a grave without doing all of the paperwork is illegal, and the legalities vary by locality – so consult an attorney and get the check book ready.  I just thought I should mention that little illegal detail, just in case.  I know genealogists are innovative and sometimes desperate people.

Having said all of that, don’t go throwing anything away.  There is new technology on the horizon that will only need one cell of DNA – so I’m told.  Seeing how far we’ve come in the past decade, I don’t doubt that someday this will be true, and someday may be closer than you think.  And no, I do not know how far away that horizon is.

So, store your DNA item safely.  Label it.  Do not seal it in plastic.  Do not store it in the attic (heat) or basement (cold, humidity) but someplace fairly temperature regulated.

One time when working with an archaeological specimen, we were told to freeze the sample.  Well, we did, in a plastic cool-whip container with water.  However, the electricity went out while the person whose freezer the specimen was stored in was out of town.  Their friend went to their house and did them the very big favor of disposing of everything in the fridge and freezer before they came home.   Needless to say, we were just sick.  So, don’t freeze it either.  Besides that, freezing in a frost-free refrigerator (that by definition defrosts itself regularly) is not the same as freezing a specimen in a laboratory temperature controlled stable environment.

So, what’s the upshot of this?

  • Forensic genetics is expensive
  • Exhumations are extremely expensive and fraught with all kinds of legal and technical landmines
  • There are very few labs, if any, that will process private forensic samples
  • When DNA is retrieved from a forensic specimen, it may be contaminant, not the DNA of the person you think it belongs to
  • When DNA is retrieved from a forensic specimen, you still have to pay for the DNA testing, in addition – and it may not work
  • When DNA is retrieved from a forensic specimen, if it does amplify, it will most likely be mitochondrial DNA
  • Using today’s combined genetic genealogy tests, there is almost always a way around the lack of a particular DNA donor, making exhumation and or forensic testing unnecessary

And if you’re considering grabbing a shovel, an urge which I well understand, I’ll leave you with the advice of an ethicist that Family Tree DNA invited to speak at their annual conference a few years ago, “Don’t do anything in the dark of night that you wouldn’t do in the middle of the day.”  Put another way, don’t do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing in the headlines, because if you get caught, that’s where you’ll be:)

But then again, those headlines would certainly be something interesting for future generations of genealogists to dig up about you!

Announcing the Native American Haplogroup C DNA Project

Sitting Bull

Marie Rundquist and I would like to announce the formation of the Native American Haplogroup C project, titled Y-DNA Haplogroup C-P39 Project.

Native American males who descend from direct paternal ancestors who crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia some 10,000+ years ago fall into one of two haplogroups, or genetic clans.  One is haplogroup Q and the other is haplogroup C.

Since both haplogroup Q and haplogroup C are found among Asians, not everyone with these haplogroups in the Americas are Native Americans – only certain subgroups identified by specific mutations that occurred shortly before, during or shortly after the migration process.

In order to group Native American descendants together to better study these haplogroups and to coordinate their genealogies, we have created a haplogroup C project just for people who are Native American descendants.

Native Americans who carry haplogroup C are indeed quite rare and are identified by a special mutation, a SNP marker, known as P39, within haplogroup C.  This haplogroup subgroup is also known by the name C3b.

We would like to invite all men who are haplogroup C and carry mutation P39, or anyone who is haplogroup C and has a family history of paternal line Native ancestry to join the project.

You may recognize the names of the administrators.  If not, let me introduce them.

Marie Rundquist’s Amerindian Ancestry out of Acadia Project has rewritten the history of the Native American’s who married into the Acadian families in Canada beginning in the 1600s and before the Acadian deportation and scattering in 1755.  I wrote about the extremely interesting Acadian Germain Doucet family who, it turns out, is haplogroup C3b.  In addition, Marie, an Acadian and Native descendant herself, is an author.  Her book, Finding Anne Marie details another discovery of a Native American ancestor in an Acadian family.

I too am a Native American descendant from several different genealogical lines, including, ironically, the Acadian Doucet line.  I have been involved with Native American genetic genealogy since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Ok, not quite that long, but since this science was taking its first tentative steps, about 12 years now.  I manage and co-manage several DNA projects that involve or are dedicated to Native American heritage.  I, along with others, was a partner in the revolutionary 2010 Native American SNP discovery.

Genetic advances and discoveries relevant to Native history and genealogy are regularly covered on my blog, www.dna-explained.com.  It’s searchable, just enter the word “Native” into the search box.  In addition, I maintain a historical focus on the Native people through the Native Names project which is focused on extracting the earliest names of Native people found in colonial documents.  To date, they number over 30,000 individuals and over 8,000 surnames.  Adventures in this project and a wide range of Native history are discussed on my blog, www.nativeheritageproject.com.

Both administrators come to you with years of genealogy and genetic experience.  We welcome project members as well as questions anyone might have.  We’re excited to be threads in the tapestry of unfolding history and hope you will join us.

http://www.familytreedna.com/public/ydna_C-P39/default.aspx

DNA Day

Did you know that today is DNA Day?  Did you know that there was such a thing as DNA Day?  It’s a holiday.  Did you take the day off work today?  What?  You didn’t know??

Well, you’re not alone if you didn’t know all of this, and you’re not THAT far behind either.  DNA Day was created by Congressional Resolution in 2003 – a date to commemorate two very important events – the 50th anniversary of the publication of the paper in Nature in which the discovery of DNA was announced by James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and the celebration in 2003 of the complete sequencing of the Human Genome. DNA cake                       To find out more about this great cake, click here.

dna day 1

The double helix model built by Crick and Watson on display at the Science Museum in London.

Here’s what the 2003 Congressional Resolution said:

Whereas April 25, 2003, will mark the 50th anniversary of the description of the double-helix structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick, considered by many to be one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th Century;

Whereas, in April 2003, the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium will place the essentially completed sequence of the human genome in public databases, and thereby complete all of the original goals of the Human Genome Project;

Whereas, in April 2003, the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the Department of Health and Human Services will unveil a new plan for the future of genomics research;

Whereas, April 2003 marks 50 years of DNA discovery during which scientists in the United States and many other countries, fueled by curiosity and armed with ingenuity, have unraveled the mysteries of human heredity and deciphered the genetic code linking one generation to the next;

Whereas, an understanding of DNA and the human genome has already fueled remarkable scientific, medical, and economic advances; and

Whereas, an understanding of DNA and the human genome hold great promise to improve the health and well being of all Americans: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the Congress-

(1) designates April 2003 as `Human Genome Month’ in order to recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the outstanding accomplishment of describing the structure of DNA, the essential completion of the sequence of the human genome, and the development of a plan for the future of genomics;

(2) designates April 25, 2003, as ‘DNA Day’ in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of the description of the structure of DNA on April 25, 1953; and

(3) recommends that schools, museums, cultural organizations, and other educational institutions across the nation recognize Human Genome Month and DNA Day and carry out appropriate activities centered on human genomics, using information and materials provided through the National Human Genome Research Institute and through other entities.

Passed the Senate February 27, 2003.

http://www.genome.gov/11008128

The resolution only declared a one-time celebration, not an annual holiday.  DNA Day celebrations have been organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) starting in 2010.  April 25th has been since declared “International DNA Day” and “World DNA Day” by several organizations.

To visit the DNA Day webpage, click here.

dna dayMaybe more important to genetic genealogists is that Family Tree DNA almost always has a sale today and true to form, they are this year as well.  The sale, extended from this past weekend, ends tonight.

But for planning purposes, now that you know, plan to celebrate this important holiday next year by taking the day off work and doing something interesting like:

  • Swab a friend
  • Swab a cousin
  • Swab your spouse to see if you two are related and/or if s/he has the warrior gene
  • Swab your dog to see what kind of mutt s/he is
  • Swab your parents/grandparents
  • Swab any older generation person in your family
  • Upgrade a genealogy cousin’s DNA test (with their permission of course)
  • Be a DNA ambassador and visit a school or genealogy organization to speak about personal genetics
  • Take yourself on a date to a science museum

Happy DNA Day!!!

A Buck By Any Other Name

buck

A Buck by any other name might be Hogan, Logan or Williams.  I think we have a case of surname schizophrenia.  We have four surnames involving 3 people.

Do you sometimes wonder why you or one of your relatives matches a whole group of people by a different surname, and none by the surname you expected them to match?

This 1888 Indian Census page for the Seneca on the Allegany Reservation in New York just might give you a clue as to why you’re not matching whom you think you should be matching..

Not matching who you expect to match is sometimes called a Nonpaternal Event (NPE) or I prefer the term undocumented adoption.  But this case doesn’t seem to be undocumented at all…it’s well documented….it’s just that we can’t understand it.

So let’s say this is your family and the husband, I presume is Augustus Buck.  So far, that looks normal.  But this is where normal ends.

Your name is Acsah.  If you’re married to Augustus Buck, your name would be Acsah Buck.  This is how all of the other families are recorded, so you would be too.  Except you have this little note that says either (Logan was) or Hogan was).  Is that a maiden name?  No one else’s maiden or other names are listed.  Is Acsah maybe not the wife of Augustus and the mother of Alfred noted below?  If that is the case, then why are they listed as Buck now?

And Alfred has his own set of problems.  He is noted as Alfred Buck, age 2. One would assume the child of Acsah and Augustus Buck, judging from the rest of the entries.  But Alfred had this note that says (was Williams.)  What does that mean?  It’s certainly not his maiden name.

Does that mean that Alfred isn’t a Buck at all?  Is Alfred even the son of Acsah?  Is Alfred really a Williams.  Was Acsah married to a Williams before Augustus?  That would seem to be pushing it given that she is only 18 and Alfred was born when she was 16.  Did she have time to be married earlier?

So, if Alfred’s descendants were to DNA test, would they match a Buck, a Williams, a Hogan or a Logan?  Or maybe none of the above if Acsah had Alfred before she married Augustus by someone not listed on the “was” list.  Maternal naming was a very common Native American occurrence and what is today considered to be illegitimacy was not viewed through the lens of colonial or Victorian America.

And just think, if you are Alfred’s great-grandson and you took the Yline DNA paternal line test, expecting to match a Buck, and you were instead matching a Williams, Hogan or Logan, and if you never saw this census page, you would have no clue as to potentially why.  Of course, if you aren’t matching a Buck or a Logan, Hogan or Williams, then all bets are off.  But at least, there is a clue here that something is not like the rest of the families recorded in the census.  It’s something to work with.

Of course, this makes me wonder how many more census entries warrant notes and of course never received them.  And of course, a legend to interpret the note would be nice too:)

Gene by Gene Signs Agreement with MD Anderson Cancer Center

It’s really nice to know that the labs owned by Gene by Gene, which includes the lab that processes the Family Tree DNA tests, are so highly regarded.  The MD Anderson Cancer Center is THE cancer treatment center, very highly regarded, ranked as the #1 cancer treatment center in the US and one the first three comprehensive cancer treatment centers, focusing on academics, research and treatment.  Congratulations to Gene by Gene.  Gene by Gene and MD Anderson will make a great team!  The press release is follows:

Gene By Gene Signs Agreement with MD Anderson Cancer Center

Will provide clinical phase instruction, training and supervision for students as part of agreement

 HOUSTON — Apr. 23, 2013 – Gene By Gene, Ltd., the Houston-based genomics and genetics testing company, announced that it has signed an agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to become one of its affiliated clinical laboratories.

Under the agreement, scientists at Gene By Gene’s Genomic Research Center will provide the clinical phase instruction, training and supervision required for students in the Molecular Genetic Technology Program, one of eight undergraduate programs offered through MD Anderson’s School of Health Professions.

“We’re delighted to partner with Gene By Gene, with its long and pioneering history in the field of genomics,” said Program Director, Peter Hu, Ph.D., with the School of Health Professions.  “Gene By Gene’s sequencing, next-generation sequencing and microarray laboratory will provide the top level of experience and training that we want all our molecular students to attain.”

Gene By Gene’s Genomic Research Center is a CLIA registered lab which has processed more than 5 million discrete DNA tests from more than 700,000 individuals and organizations globally.  It is now one of only 36 laboratories in the United States, including the Yale University School of Medicine and the Baylor College of Medicine, to achieve this prestigious affiliation.

“We’re very proud to be able to share our laboratory and expertise with MD Anderson’s School of Health Professions,” said Gene By Gene President Bennett Greenspan.  “It’s an honor to be among the select few companies and institutions that are invited to affiliate with this prestigious institution.  In addition, this is a wonderful opportunity for Gene By Gene to continue investing in the next generation of leaders in genomic and genetic science, and we’re thrilled to welcome the first students to our Genomics Research Center this May.”

About Gene By Gene, Ltd.

Founded in 2000, Gene By Gene, Ltd. provides reliable DNA testing to a wide range of consumer and institutional customers through its four divisions focusing on ancestry, health, research and paternity.  Gene By Gene provides DNA tests through its Family Tree DNA division, which pioneered the concept of direct-to-consumer testing in the field of genetic genealogy more than a decade ago.  Gene by Gene is CLIA registered and through its clinical-health division DNA Traits offers regulated diagnostic tests.  DNA DTC is the Research Use Only (RUO) division serving both direct-to-consumer and institutional clients worldwide.  Gene By Gene offers AABB certified relationship tests through its paternity testing division, DNA Findings.  The privately held company is headquartered in Houston, which is also home to its state-of-the-art Genomics Research Center.

DNA Survives Bomb Blasts

Bomb1

In a surprising development, Discovery News reports that DNA can survive bomb blasts, and may indeed provide much needed links to who assembled that bomb.

Bomb 2

Dr. David Foran is performing ground breaking, and ground shaking, research into the remnants of such bombs, proving that the DNA obtained, as minute as it is, is readily identifiable to the person who handled the bomb, of course, assumed to be the builder and perpetrator.

Bomb 3

http://news.discovery.com/tech/videos/tech-dna-survives-bomb-blast.htm

Work on forensic genetics is being done at the Forensic Biology Department at Michigan State University.

Some of their cases, including that of the Boston Strangler, can be seen here.

You can take a look at their DNA labs and equipment here.

I never imagined with the heat and force of a bomb blast that DNA evidence would be able to be recovered.  I’m glad to know that genetics may well play a role in bringing these types of criminals to justice.

DNA Day Sale at Family Tree DNA

ftdna sale 4-2013

Beginning today and ending Monday night, April 22nd, at midnight, Family Tree DNA will be having an extensive DNA Day Sale.  Of note, both mitochondrial Full Sequence and Family Finder upgrades will be included, which seldom happens.  Family Tree DNA is taking this opportunity as well to announce technology upgrades in their sequenceing equipment.

If you have been considering either, this is a great sale and a good time to order these tests.  Family Tree DNA’s announcement to project administrators today is provided below.

SPECIAL DNA DAY REDUCED PRICING
We are pleased to announce our 2013 DNA DAY Promotion.While the special pricing features all the major tests, we’re   placing particular emphasis on the Full Mitochondrial Sequence and Family   Finder. We’ll offer Y-DNA upgrades during a Father’s Day sale and will give   you those details at that time.By carefully choosing the sale options and limiting the length   of the sale, we will be better able to focus our resources on processing the   tests efficiently and avoiding delays in delivering results.

We are proud to announce we have successfully moved our mtDNA   Full Sequencing line from Sanger DNA sequencing to what is called Next   Generation Sequencing (NGS). This gives us much greater capacity to process   tests, to reduce costs without sacrificing quality, and to ensure shorter   turnaround times.

We must run the entire sequence every time we process an mtDNA   full sequence test, even for upgrades. However, in recognition of your prior   investment- and National DNA Day – we’re offering our lowest price ever for   the FMS and upgrades.

Rather than the 8-10 weeks first generation sequencing   required, we expect results to be completed within 5-6 weeks. This does   depend on the number of orders received though. If their DNA is already at   our lab, those who order first may expect even shorter turnaround times.

For a limited time we will be selling the FMS for $189 and   whether you’ve tested HVR1 or HVR1+2, you’ll be able to upgrade to the Full   Sequence for just $129!

In addition, we are also lowering the Family Finder to $169 for   this sale!

Here is the list of all tests under the promotion:

Full MtDNA Sequence…. $189
Upgrades to FMS….$129
Y-DNA37 (new and add-on)…. $119
Y-DNA67 (new and add-on)…. $199
Y-DNA37 + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $308
Y-DNA12 + FF…. $218
Y-DNA37 + FF…. $288
Y-DNA67 + FF…. $368
Family Finder…. $169
Family Finder + Full MtDNA Sequence…. $358
SuperDNA….$388 (Y-67 + FMS)
Comprehensive DNA…. $557 (Y-67 + FMS + FF)

The sale will begin tonight, April 18th, at 6PM CDT and will   conclude at 11:59PM CDT on Monday April 22nd. All orders must be placed and   paid for by the end of the sale to receive the promotional price.

There will be no need for a coupon – all prices will be   automatically adjusted on the website.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR   CONTINUED SUPPORT
Bennett Greenspan
President
Family Tree DNA