Over the last ten years, I’ve seen the ancestry part of our genetic service change lives. Every day I watch people connect with their DNA family, and see how the concept of family can evolve into something greater — and even more meaningful.
There’s always been the possibility of learning about your family’s past through historical documents and public records, but the scientific data — your genetic data — can make the story of someone come alive in another way. From sperm donor brothers and sisters finding each other; to adoptees meeting cousins; to co-workers finding out they are related; to simply seeing what you share with the family you already know, DNA gives us deeper insight into ourselves. In fact, customers write in and tell me how they’ve been able to discover records and photos and share the oral traditions of their rich family history, through their new, 23andMe connections.
• In 2008 we were the first to conduct comprehensive autosomal analysis for ancestry across all 23 pairs of chromosomes to inform ancestry reports.
• In 2009 we launched our Relative Finder tool (now called DNA Relatives) that allowed users to find relatives in our database based on shared segments of DNA.
• In 2011 we introduced our Neanderthal Report, allowing people to see how much Neanderthal DNA they carried.
• In 2012 we broke new ground with our Ancestry Composition Report, based on a proprietary machine learning algorithm, that provided insights into ancestry from 21 populations. We have since updated that report to use an even more reference populations — 31.
• In 2016 we launched our Relatives in Common tool, which allows customers to see how their known relatives and mutual relatives are related to each other based on their DNA.
We all have a beautiful rich genetic story inside each of us. I believe looking at your genetic ancestry is as important as being able to look at yourself in a mirror. Understanding who you are and where you come from is one of the most powerful ways to learn about genetics.
From the very beginning, 23andMe has been focused on two things: providing people with access to information from their own DNA, and building a world-class scientific organization to push the boundaries of genetics research in both health and ancestry. While I firmly believe in the power of everyone accessing their genetic health data, I understand some people want to explore genetics through the journey of their family first. (And family is first for me!)
Today, I want to enable more families to come together to learn who they are and where they are from — and have the choice to see the world as one big, modern DNA family. All of us here at 23andMe are excited to offer a $99 ancestry service with ancestry-only reports.
Our population geneticists, statistical geneticists and computational biologists have worked with our engineers and designers to build fun and engaging features backed by our research. We feel this standalone ancestry service offers some of the best features on the market, as we pioneered many of the most powerful DNA ancestry tools including autosomal analysis, ancestry composition and DNA relatives since the beginning.
The future of genetic ancestry is exciting. We are all in this together. Coming together as a global genetic family can only help all of us understand how we are genetically related to the world around us. (Remember we are 99.9 percent genetically the same!) As the world of genetics continues to expand with new health and ancestry discoveries, so do the personal insights we each will gain, deepening our own understanding into who we are as individuals, as humans, and possibly as part of one big DNA family.