News From i4GG

This past weekend I spent in San Diego. You might think what a great way to get away from the snow that I live in. But much of my time was spent indoors at the hotel or going out for dinner. But I can say it was much warmer than Edmonton. 

I was in San Diego for the 5th i4GG Conference,  i4GG stands for Institute for Genetic Genealogy.  This was a sold out event as it usually is each year. 

The conference kicked off  Friday with the entire day’s consisting of presentations given by each of the DNA companies. So Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage and Living DNA

Of course, there were the usual statistics; 23&Me has 5 million customers, MyHeritage has 9.4 Billion genealogy records and free uploads to their DNA site ends on December 17th. (So act now), Family Tree DNA has 1 million customers and they will soon have a Mayflower Descendant Badge (that’s cool). Ancestry they said was over 10 Million but I believe after Black Friday that the number I’d heard had climbed to 14 Million. Although many won’t be in the system until after Christmas. Living DNA spoke about the fact that only 11.4% of the population is doing DNA for genealogy and 88.6% for self-discovery. 

But in total, they were saying 22 million people have DNA tested . 

Here are a few tips that I learned from the sessions I went to. The next three are from Shannon Christmas. 

  1. When creating an email for your DNA match give the email a hook. Something that catches their attention and makes them want to answer. 
  2. Send a 2nd message updating your DNA match on what you’ve learned. 
  3. Leave a note on a public tree. I thought this was interesting because many people seem to be able to ignore emails but they may not when they see it in their tree.  

Kitty Cooper spoke about Gedmatch. Gedmatch has 1.2 Million kits in their system. When people became aware of the Golden State Killer case and how it was solved using access to Gedmatch Kitty said there were people who left but that quickly tapered off. Now, 900-1000 people upload each day. 

It’s important to understand the terms of service for Gedmatch and to ensure that if you admin on a cousin’s kit you should get their written authorization to have the kit on Gedmatch. Also if you don’t want your cousins to see your kit you can change your kit to a research kit.  Kitty also recommended a Chrome App called MedBetter. MedBetter gives you the ability to sort your matches in a variety of ways and when you hover over your notes you can see the notes without opening them. 

 Then it was on to DNA and the recent cases that have been solved with DNA. The Gold Coast Killer was the first case that was solved using genetic genealogy. This was announced coincidentally???? on April 25th (DNA Day). Since then genetic genealogy has solved something like 22 cases. Primarily cold cases but one was a current case out of Utah. 

CeCe Moore provided a lot of information. She said that 1/3 of all crime cases go unsolved. The Codis system (Criminal DNA) uses 20 markers for their tests. The difference between CODIS and Gedmatch is that CODIS is compelled DNA vs Gedmatch which is voluntary.  CODIS is minority bias where Gedmatch has reverse bias. 

The whole premise of the use of genetic genealogy is fascinating to me.  Of course the police have to investigate the case but genetic genealogy points the way and narrows down the suspect lists. I think that by using genetic genealogy or as it is now know as investigative genealogy (a term coined by one of the law enforcement personal on the Golden State Killer case, this will actually be more cost effective for police as cases will be solved much quicker and then police can move to the next case. 

But back to CeCe’s presentation. We were told that Dr. Oz has become involved. CeCe had  already been on his show in November and she went to New York the day after the conference to speak with him again. (Airing soon). People are having their DNA test to help in criminal cases. With over 22 million DNA kit sold imagine what could happen if everyone uploaded to Gedmatch? 

Finally, on Sunday we got to hear from Barbara Rae Venter (a retired patent attorney) who is the genetic genealogist who helped solve the Golden State Killer case. Barbara is a soft-spoken lady who, like many of us, has used her skills in DNA to solve unknown parentage cases. Then she was asked to work on a case for a lady that was abducted at 6 months old. (you can read more at the link above). 

Be assured that the DNA companies that you test with are not allowing  police to use their sites. This type of use for DNA is strictly being done at Gedmatch and Gedmatch’s terms of service state that the site can be used for criminal cases. But only violent crimes and to identify remains of unknown deceased people.  

So things are changing in the field of genetic genealogy. As I think I’ve said before it’s getting to be very fast paced. I can only imagine where we will be in 5 years. 

Note; my apologies for the lateness this week for my blog but between a bad fall and a terrible cold I’ve been down for the count this week. 

Note that text in italic are my own thoughts.  

Note: This post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a percentage on sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. It’s  simply a supplement to my income so I can continue  to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society