Breaking News

The DNA Guide for Adoptees - #1 New Release in Genetics on Amazon

The DNA Guide for Adoptees - #1 New Release in Genetics on Amazon

Exciting news today as The DNA Guide for Adoptees has released in #1 new release for genetics. I’m looking forward to the information and support falling into people’s hands whether their preference is paperback or Kindle.

The book covers a lot of ground and is divided into four sections:

  • Getting Started

  • Bringing Science and Research Together through Genetic Genealogy

  • What to Do After the DNA Testing is Done

  • DNA Tests and the Search for Health Information

Announcing the upcoming release of the book "The DNA Guide for Adoptees"

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I’m excited to announce the book I have written with my friend Shannon Combs-Bennett is available for preorder on Kindle! The DNA Guide for Adoptees will be available as a Kindle e-book and in print starting May 30th, 2019 on Amazon.com.

Shannon and I met in 2016 while attending a week-long workshop, the Advanced Genetic Genealogy course run by the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

We have both worked with family, friends, and clients using DNA testing in family searches. The melding of our minds as a genetic counselor and a genealogist has led to a book that covers a wide range of DNA topics for the audience of people using DNA for family searches and medical reasons.

Listen to Thomas MacEntee mention it during his discussion of consumer tests on the podcast Not Old, Better (it comes up around minute 16:00). Thomas has helped us prepare and launch our book to the benefit of readers, and we are grateful to him for it!

I will be blogging more about the book in the upcoming weeks to address questions about the sub-topics we cover and how it will benefit readers. I also talk about the book on an upcoming podcast on June 7th with Kira Dineen of DNA Today. Watch for it!

Are you a library, book store, adoption, genetics professional, or genealogy group interested in a visit and book signing with the authors? Reach out to express interest in getting on the schedule for an in-person or virtual book tour visit for your group.

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

The relatively-new genetic editing technology CRISPR is in the news this week.

The first report of gene-edited babies has come out, reported by a researcher in China who was trained and degreed at a university in the United States. Here’s a Slate article with more details if you haven’t heard about this breaking story yet. This Vox article gives a 101 intro to CRISPR.

CRISPR is a technology that uses a specially-designed protein with a short DNA segment attached to it to intentionally break a gene so that it doesn’t work and replace a region of DNA.

MyHeritage announces DNA Quest Program for Adoptees and Birth Families

I am so excited and honored to be part of the advisory board for the newly-announced project to help adoptees and birth family access DNA testing. This program will make DNA kits available for free until April 30, 2018 to a set number of adoptees and birth family members worldwide who want to make use of DNA testing and genetic genealogy to identify one another. The program just announced its expansion beyond the US to worldwide within the past few days. You can read more in the press release below (revised to reflect global availability) and follow links to the site where FAQs about the program are answered. 


MyHeritage Launches DNA QUEST — A Major Pro Bono Initiative for Adoptees and their Biological Families to Find Each Other via DNA Testing

MyHeritage will distribute 15,000 DNA kits, worth over one million dollars, for free in the first phase of this initiative

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, March 1, 2018 — MyHeritage, the leading global destination for family history and DNA testing, announced today the launch of a new pro bono initiative, DNA Quest, to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. As part of this initiative, MyHeritage will provide 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits, worth more than one million dollars, for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants. Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing. Application opens today on the project website, www.dnaquest.org, which includes detailed information about the initiative.

Many of the approximately 7 million adoptees living in the USA today (and even more globally) are searching for their biological parents or siblings. The search is time-sensitive, because every year some of the people who are searching pass away, missing the opportunity to reunite. Currently, the main avenues for adoptees and their biological parents to find each other are adoption agencies, registries created for this purpose, and genetic testing. With formal adoption records being unavailable or difficult to obtain in some states, genetic genealogy opens new doors in the search for relatives, and MyHeritage believes everyone should be able to access this valuable technology.

To maximize the potential of this initiative to successfully reunite families, MyHeritage has set up an advisory board of top experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption to guide and support this initiative on a voluntary basis. This alliance ensures the best possible professional support for participants, with each advisory board member bringing unique expertise. The advisory board includes: CeCe Moore, founder of DNA Detectives; Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist; Richard Weiss of DNA Adoption; Richard Hill, DNA testing adviser; Katharine Tanya, founder of Adopted.com; Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA; Pamela Slaton, investigative genealogist; Leah Larkin, The DNA Geek; and Amy Winn, President of American Adoption Congress.

DNA Quest is an expansion of another one of MyHeritage’s successful pro bono projects to reunite adoptees from the Israeli Yemenite community with their biological families. In that project, MyHeritage facilitated successful reunions between adoptees and their biological siblings, in challenging cases where the protagonists were searching for each other without success for more than 60 years.

“We have a company culture of using our resources and technology for the greater good. In this spirit we’ve initiated several significant pro bono projects, such as returning looted assets from WWII to their rightful owners and documenting family histories and traditions of tribal peoples who lack access to modern technology. DNA Quest is a natural extension of these efforts,” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet, who conceived DNA Quest. “There is a great need for a project like this — to help adoptees find their biological families — and we are the right company to take it on. We’ve already successfully reunited many families and are confident that through this initiative, together with a wonderful alliance of top experts, we’ll be able to utilize the power of genetic genealogy to help many more.”

“Few things are more fulfilling than a life-changing adoptee-family reunion”, said CeCe Moore, founder of DNA Detectives, the largest group on Facebook that brings together volunteers with genetic genealogy and searching experience, and those seeking biological family. “I’m very excited to be a member of the DNA Quest advisory board and look forward to assisting participants find the lost loved ones for whom they are yearning."

There are already more than 1.25 million people in the MyHeritage DNA database — one of the fastest growing among the major DNA companies. Additionally, MyHeritage is unique among the top three DNA companies to offer the option to upload DNA results from other test providers for free. The company is uniquely positioned to reunite families and has indeed facilitated many emotional success stories, with more taking place in every passing day.

Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018.

Those who have already taken a DNA test with another company can upload their DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.

The privacy of all applicants and participants will be strictly enforced. The DNA is owned by the participants and not by MyHeritage. The company has never sold genetic data and has pledged to never do so in the future without users’ explicit consent. DNA Quest is a pro bono project without gotchas or caveats.


About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading global destination for family history and DNA testing. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage has transformed family history into an activity that is accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive database of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Launched in November 2016, MyHeritage DNA is a technologically advanced, affordable DNA test that reveals ethnic origins and previously unknown relatives. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to find new family members, discover ethnic origins, and to treasure family stories, past and present, for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages. For more detail, visit www.myheritage.com. DNA Quest is available on www.dnaquest.org.

Contact

MyHeritage

Rafi Mendelsohn

Director of PR & Social Media

Phone: 917-725-5018

Email: pr@myheritage.com

It's time for a #Twitterchat with the NSGC Digital Ambassadors

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Countdown has begun. 7 days until Twitter gets a hefty dose of passionate genetic counselors sharing about what drew them to their calling. You can follow the discussion live next Thursday, or you can follow me on Twitter @GCBrianne to catch up later. 

Tweeters, follow using the hashtag #NSGCGenePool.

A hashtag is what we used to call a pound sign back in the olden days. Sheesh! My DNA can barely keep up with all of these changes going on in the world! 

23andMe Genetic Health Risk Reports - An April Surprise!

23andMe is a personal genomics company offering reports on a number of different types of DNA findings. They use a specific type of DNA test called a SNP ("snip") microarray. A SNP test doesn't include testing for your entire genetic code, just a tiny portion of it. 

23andMe recently received FDA approval to return a set of reports that provide an adjusted risk assessment for certain conditions. The ten conditions on the "approved" list are:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (*support & information for e4 carriers here)
  • Celiac disease
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Early-onset primary dystonia
  • Factor XI deficiency
  • Gaucher disease type 1
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency ("favism")
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis
  • Hereditary thrombophilia

I think we can expect the list to grow longer over time.

If you're planning to order a 23andMe test (or if you've already ordered one in the past and will open your new reports when available), spend a little time learning about these conditions beforehand and how the information might help you. 

Go through the mental checklist below before you view your results:

I understand this test cannot DIAGNOSE me with any of these conditions, rather they show that my chances for developing them may go up or down.  

I understand there are online resources, including reliable websites and support groups, that can help me if my report shows the presence of a genetic variant for one or more of these conditions.

I understand sometimes genetic technologies, and the people running them and interpreting the data, can make mistakes.

I am the same person with the same DNA that I was yesterday. Nothing about me changes solely based on a DNA test.

I understand genetic counselors want to partner with DNA test takers to help them understand and adjust to their results and I can find one through various sources including findageneticcounselor.com, Genome Medical, and Watershed DNA.

* I will be adding more resource and support websites to this blog post and the resources section of my website over time.