Two really fun articles from Wait But Why on your ancestors:
November 2013: FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andme to Hault DNA Test Service
October 2013: WNYC Radio: Ryan's biological father speaks publicly for the first time about being found through DNA testing. Lost, Then Found
February 2013: NATURE: Genetic privacy needs a more nuanced approach, by Misha Angrist:
Excerpt: "...an article in Science last month raised doubts about the privacy of volunteers who hand over their genetic data (M. Gymrek et al. Science 339, 321–324; 2013). “Oh my God, we really did this,” said Yaniv Erlich of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to The New York Times, after his group managed to cross-reference information from public databases to put names to samples of DNA donated to research.
Yet what the scientists did is not shocking or all that new. The DNA re-identification bogeyman has lurked at the door for years. The warning signs were there in 2005 when a precocious 15-year-old boy called Ryan Kramer found his sperm-donor father. Just as Erlich and his colleagues would do years later, Kramer used a combination of Y-chromosome data — his own in this case — and genealogical searching of public records to track down a donor dad who had almost certainly been promised anonymity by the sperm bank."
If you are interested in DNA Testing, please contact Wendy directly. She can e-introduce you to her contact at FamilyTree so that you can get the most up to date information on your DNA testing options.
Advice on DNA testing from a donor conceived adult, John:
What is advertised as a half-sibling test ïs not very reliable. It is typically
based upon a very small set of DNA markers and the probabilities of the possible
values of these markers in different populations. False negatives and false
positives are both quite possible. This sort of testing works very well for
paternity testing (where the child must one same value as the father at each
marker position), but not very well here.
It's far better to have each person submit their samples to either
familytreedna.com or to 23andme.com. As was described earlier, both companies
use so much data that it's very definite that two half-siblings who in theory
should have 25% identical DNA will in fact be found to have roughly 25%
The two people will be sending in their samples separately - they won't be doing
a "half-sibling test". Instead, they will be just entered into the FamilyFinder
or the RelativeFinder database along with every one else. And if the two people
are in fact half-siblings, they will see each other in their list of matches.
Another new company that is doing the same sort of test is ancestry.com. I have
sent in my samples to all three companies, but have not gotten my results back
from ancestry.com (I am a 55 year old donor-conceived man).
What company to test with? Unfortunately 23andme.com and familytreedna.com gives
you different sorts of information.
As has been said, 23andme.com will give you medical risk factors (to the extent
and accuracy that they are currently known) and trait information. If you want
to find out whether you are at greater risk than the average person of getting
breast cancer, Alzheimer's, or other diseases; or if you want to find out if you
have a recessive gene for blue eyes; then 23andme.com is the better company to
Unfortunately, 23andme.com gives you much less information about the matches it
finds for you in the Relative Finder database. Possibly because most people go
to 23andme.com to get medical risk factors, there are much greater privacy
controls there than there are at familytreedna.com. Unless your match chooses to
have their information be public (and most don't), all you will learn initially
is the gender and degree of your match. To learn anything else, you have to
contact them through 23andme.com's messaging system. In my experience, most that
you try to contact will ignore you.
With familytreedna.com, you will get the following for every one of your
matches: name, email address, degree of relationship, and ancestral surnames.
Getting names, and a way to directly contact matches is very practical if you're
searching for biological relatives. In addition, the people in the
familytreedna.com database are actually looking for their distant relatives. In
my experience, people are far more likely to agree to contact with you.
I agree with Wendy - overall, for those of us searching, familytreedna.com is
the superior choice. - John
Families locate their sperm donors via DNA testing:
"Anonymous Sperm Donor Traced On Internet" New Scientist.com, 11/3/2005
"Are Sperm Donors Really Anonymous Anymore? DNA testing makes them easy to trace." Slate Magazine 3/2010
Found on the Web, With DNA: A Boy's Father, The Washington Post 11/13/2005
Ryan with Dr. James Watson (discovered DNA/the Double Helix). We sat in his office and chatted about DNA (even about finding your formerly anonymous sperm donor through DNA!), science, politics, religion and life. It was fascinating, and an amazing privilege.