Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Home DNA tests reveal more than customers bargain for

To watch the presentation on CTV hit here

Are home DNA tests revealing more than customers are aware of? W5's Sandie Rinaldo investigates how much information you could be giving away.

It was a casual comment from a work colleague that launched a CTV's W5 investigation into home DNA test kits people do for fun, like the ones from Ancestry.com and 23andMe. A producer was curious about her heritage, as she's the child of a Canadian mother and Moroccan father. She wanted to learn more about her genetic makeup. The test was simple enough: deposit saliva into a plastic vial and send it off to Ancestry.com. A month later, it came back with a precise breakdown. She was ecstatic.

But W5 discovered that DNA home test kits come with rewards and risks.

What my colleague didn’t know was that her information, her DNA, the most personal and essential part of us, could very easily be in the hands of third parties.

W5 spoke to York University Professor Julia Creet, who has written two books on how commercial DNA companies operate. Professor Creet says, “They are making money by selling the information to other large companies.”

“Consumers are paying to give away their most valuable information, their most private and valuable information.”

But sharing DNA from these home tests has also helped police solve cold cases. W5 spoke to the families of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook, two Canadians who were found murdered in Washington state in 1987.

Their killer remained a mystery until 2018, when DNA from a second cousin, who had done a home DNA test, led police to William Earl Talbott II. He has since been found guilty, in the first of its kind court case using genetic genealogy. The technology was also central in the arrest of the notorious Golden State killer. That case has yet to go to trial.

DNA from a home test kit can also reveal family secrets; like your father is not your biological father.

A man we are calling Philip discovered a DNA secret that threatens to tear his family apart. He did not want his identity revealed because others in his family don’t yet know what he uncovered. Along the way, he also found two half-siblings and an explanation for a host of health issues he’s had to endure over the years.

In this new world, where technologies have taken DNA out of labs and onto social media, sperm and egg donors can no longer be promised anonymity. Case in point: a California university student, who discovered he had 32 half-siblings thanks to his biological dad, a sperm donor.

Toronto Lawyer Sherry Levitan, who specializes in fertility issues, says home DNA tests have fundamentally changed the nature of sperm and egg donation.

Levitan says “Donors cannot be promised anonymity and I think it would be a fool’s errand to promise anonymity.”

In a statement to W5, Ancestry says it "is committed to safeguarding our customers’ data and privacy and we give customers control over their own data at all times. We do not and will not share customer DNA data with insurers, employers, or third-party marketers."

The company also says it doesn't share customer information with law enforcement "unless compelled to by valid legal process."

23andMe issued a similar statement to W5, saying "Beyond the private lab we work with to process your sample and deliver your results, your information will not be shared with any other entity unless you provide us with consent to do so.”

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It’s Possible to Inherit More DNA From One Parent Than the Other :23andMe’s 4-million-person database reveals how many people are living with undetected chromosomal anomalies.

Before Natalie Nakles was born, before the egg from which she was conceived was even fully mature, something went slightly awry. The egg that would help form her ended up with two copies of chromosome 16. So today, 24-year-old Nakles does not, as most people do, have one set of chromosomes from each parent. She has two copies of chromosome 16 from her mother and none from her father.

This phenomenon, called uniparental disomy, can happen in any of the 23 pairs of chromosomes. In the scientific literature, it has been linked to spontaneous abortions—and if the fetus survives, skeletal abnormalities, seizures, intellectual disability, and childhood cancers. Nakles has Asperger’s syndrome, but she is otherwise healthy. She has no serious health issues. She only found out about her uniparental disomy after sending in her saliva to 23andMe.

Now a new study of DNA from 4.4 million 23andMe customers—as well as 430,000 people in the U.K. Biobank—suggests many other healthy people, like Nakles, are living with uniparental disomy. The study identified 675 such people and found no significant associations with deleterious traits. Uniparental disomy is both more common and less detrimental than the scientific literature suggested.

“I was really excited to see this paper,” says Wendy Robinson, a medical geneticist at the University of British Columbia who was not involved in the study. She had suspected that uniparental disomy occurs in healthy people more often than reported. But until recently, healthy people were not taking DNA tests by the millions. A doctor might see a few patients with an unusual disorder, order DNA tests to discover uniparental disomy, and then publish a paper. It’s like only searching for flowerpots under streetlights and concluding that every flowerpot must be under a streetlight.

The people in 23andMe and U.K. Biobank, on the other hand, skew healthy, and it turns out that even healthy people can have what might seem to be big genetic anomalies. “I like to say it’s normal to be abnormal,” Robinson says. She adds that uniparental disomy sometimes comes up in prenatal tests, and the results can make parents anxious because the existing scientific research is essentially a catalog of everything that can go wrong. This study might add some reassurance. “Just because you have that doesn’t automatically mean there’s going to be anything wrong with your child,” she says.

Uniparental disomy is the result of an error during meiosis, the process that forms eggs and sperm. Scientists have proposed different mechanisms, but the most common scenario probably goes like this: The error in meiosis gives the egg or sperm an extra copy of one chromosome, so the resulting embryo ends up with three copies on it. Sometimes, these embryos are spontaneously aborted, but other times, they are able to go through “trisomy rescue,” in which some cells lose that extra third chromosome and eventually outcompete the non-normal cells. The resulting child ends up with the right number of chromosomes, but not necessarily one from each parent.

This is all much more complicated than the standard story of sperm meets egg, yet the result is still a healthy child. “It goes against so many of the rules of biology you’ve memorized in school,” says Priyanka Nakka, a postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and former 23andMe intern who co-wrote the study. Scientists have theorized and later discovered other ways that conception can go very much awry yet still result in healthy children, such as sesquizygotic twins.

When uniparental disomy does lead to health problems, it is for one of two reasons. First, a child might inherit two copies of a rare, recessive mutation from one parent. Second, some genes are normally turned off or on depending on which parent they’re inherited from in a phenomenon called “genomic imprinting.” That means inheriting two copies from the same parent can cause various health issues. For example, two maternal copies of chromosome 15 leads to Prader-Willi syndrome; two paternal copies leads to Angelman syndrome. They are distinct genetic disorders with very distinct symptoms.

Genomic imprinting does not appear to be spread evenly across all chromosomes though, and uniparental disomy is more serious when on some chromosomes than others. Nakka and her co-authors found that most of the existing papers on uniparental disomy focused on disorders related to chromosomes 6, 7, 11, 14, and 15. But uniparental disomy among relatively healthy people in 23andMe and U.K. Biobank tended to be more common on chromosomes 1, 4, 16, 21, 22, and X.

As at-home DNA tests have become more common, customers have been discovering uniparental disomies on their own. One prominent genetic genealogist, CeCe Moore, told me she had seen about a dozen cases from people who had approached her about their unusual DNA test results. 23andMe doesn’t flag uniparental disomy to customers—and the company says it doesn’t plan to—but it’s possible to deduce from closely scrutinizing the results.

Nakles figured it out after she and her mom both took 23andMe tests, and she noticed they shared more of chromosome 16 than usual. She got her dad to take a test, too, and it confirmed they shared no segments of chromosome 16 at all. Nakles is a medical student, and she quickly pieced together how she came to be in cellular detail. When we talked, she traced for me the initial error in meiosis and the trisomy rescue that “fixed” it. She marveled at how easily she could have not been born at all.

For more information hit here

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Genetic tests: Experts urge caution over home testing

People should not make health decisions based on genetic tests they do at home, experts have warned. The University of Southampton team, writing in the British Medical Journal, warn results can be unreliable.The geneticists said the tests could be wrongly reassuring - or lead to unnecessary worry. 23andMe, one of the companies offering tests, said there were "many cases" where results had prompted further checks and preventative treatment. The research does not cover genetic screening offered by the NHS to people with a family history of a disease, or other risk factors.

Instead, it covers so-called direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests.

'Breadth over detail'
Prof Anneke Lucassen, president of the British Society for Genetic Medicine and a consultant in clinical genetics at University Hospital Southampton led the research. She said: "Genetic tests sold online and in shops should absolutely not be used to inform health decisions without further scrutiny.
"Finding a 'health risk' via these tests often does not mean a person will go on to develop the health problem in question, while 'reassuring' results might be unreliable. Prof Lucassen described seeing patients whose tests wrongly indicated they had faulty genes suggesting a high risk of certain cancers.
She said she understood people might be drawn to the tests in the hope of getting clear information about their future health.

But the BMJ paper warns genetic tests often prioritise "breadth over detail", citing a 23andMe test that checks for a few variants of Brca1 and 2, linked to breast and ovarian cancer risk, when there are actually thousands. A 23andMe spokesman said its processes were "extremely accurate" and it spelt out exactly what its Brca test looked for. "We are very clear with customers that we test only for certain genetic variants," he said. "As far as the variants we are testing for, they are some of the most well studied and associated with extremely high risk."

"23andMe results can and do facilitate valuable conversations with healthcare providers. "In fact, we've had many cases where customers have taken a 23andMe result to their doctors, been prescribed confirmatory testing and have had preventative treatment as a result." But Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, said: "Genetic testing shouldn't simply be done to satisfy a patient's curiosity about their health, as the results could have very real implications.

"Our members have reported patients coming to see them with the results of commercial genetic tests, asking for them to be interpreted - and some commercial companies actually advise this instead of providing the necessary advice and feedback themselves. "This is not a good use of our time or NHS resources and should be the direct responsibility of the companies that are being paid to perform the tests."

Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, said: "We recommend that you do not buy these tests, which are at best a waste of money. "Handing your DNA to a private company also raises privacy concerns for you and members of your family."

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Telling the Entire Story of Mexico’s Indigenous People, a new website in progress by John Schmal

GSHA-SC would like to welcome you to a new website by John Schmal. It is  IndigenousMexico.org,

This website is a resource for anyone interested in the indigenous tribes of Mexico and Southwest United States.

When John started doing Mexican genealogical research in the 90s, many people asked him about the type of indigenous tribes that inhabited the regions where their ancestors came from. He had friends whose families had come from Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayarit, Michoacán and Guanajuato and they wanted to know more about these tribal groups whose names they had never heard of. So twenty years ago, he started to research these “unknown” native groups and put together their stories.

Mexico has one of the most diverse linguistic and cultural environments in the world. In school, we all learned about the Aztecs and Mayans, but there is so much more to the indigenous people of Mexico.  Remember that Mexico has 31 states, but the Aztecs and Mayans inhabited or ruled over significant portions of only 13 states.

Today, he believe that EVERY MEXICAN STATE HAS A STORY TO TELL. And he would like to help people learn more about those stories. This website features a number of short histories and presentations that will put you, your students, and your library patrons on a path to learning more about the native people who may be your ancestors.

Even today, 500 years after Cortés arrived on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, Mexico has 64 ethnolinguistic groups within its borders, and each of those groups has a story to tell.

This website has been developed as A ONE-STOP RESOURCE for interested persons and students. The bibliographies provided at the end of these histories and the footnotes in the presentations can provide you with additional resources to help you learn more about these fascinating groups.

Please take a moment and look over the site, add it to a list of resources. Please note that the work will always be brought up to date when more information becomes available.

Follow up on Hispanic Research San Diego

The meeting was held at the San Diego Central Library. We welcomed six new participants to our meeting, eleven in attendance all together.  We started the meeting with each attendee telling us the status of their progress on their genealogy research.

Mr Ceasar Castro was the speaker for the day. He has been doing genealogy research for over 10 years. During that time, he has collected a large list of web sites that are pertinent to genealogy. Ceasar presented those web sites that most research either overlook or are unaware of. Web sites such as the Bancroft Library were you can find early California and Mexico history. Hubert Howe Brancroft wrote history books on California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Utah and Mexico. The list included over 50 web sites related to genealogy research.

Visit to Rancho Los Cerritos

GSHA-SC celebrated its Viva La Familia celebration by visiting a local Hispanic landmark and uncovering the history of the historical site.

The place we visited was Los Cerritos Ranch House, an adobe residence erected in southern California during the Mexican period". Los Cerritos means "the little hills" in English. The structure, we toured was built in 1844 by merchant Jonathan Temple, a Yankee pioneer who became a Mexican citizen. The house was once the headquarters for a 27,000 acre ranch; the major activity on the ranch was cattle and sheep told by the tour guides.

The land was part of the 167,000-acre, Rancho Los Nietos land grant given to Jose Manuel Nieto by the governor of Alta California. Nietos was a soldier from the Presidio of San Diego who was assigned to the Mission San Gabriel at the time his land was granted by the Spanish Empire in 1784. The Rancho eventually was divided into five parcels, given to his wife and four children. Rancho Los Cerritos was just one of these estates. The others were Rancho Los Alamitos (which includes Eastern Long Beach, all of Los Alamitos and Rossmoor, and most of Seal Beach, Cypress, Stanton and Garden Grove), Rancho Los Coyotes (Cerritos, La Mirada, Stanton, and Buena Park), Rancho Las Bolsas (Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Fountain Valley and Westminster) and Rancho Santa Gertrudes (Downey and Santa Fe Springs).

In 1843, Temple purchased Rancho Los Cerritos and built the adobe house in 1844 as headquarters for his cattle operations. In 1866, Temple sold the rancho to Flint, Bixby & Company, which converted the ranch from cattle to sheep. Jotham Bixby, the brother of one of the company's founders, managed and resided at the ranch from 1866-1871. Jotham Bixby, eventually purchased the property for himself and raised seven children at the adobe. Beginning in the late 1870s, Bixby began leasing or selling portions of the ranch, which became the cities of Downey, Paramount and Lakewood.

Between the 1870s and 1920, the adobe fell into disrepair. In 1929, Llewellyn Bixby (Jotham's nephew) purchased the property, and made extensive renovations to the house, including plaster cement coating, a new red-tiled roof, electricity, plumbing, fireplaces, a sun porch, new floors and much of the landscaping. When Llewellyn Bixby died in 1942, the family sold the house to the City of Long Beach in 1955. The City turned the house into a museum dedicated to educating the public about California's rancho period.

Water tower

Stroage and Jacksmith  tools 
Front of the Adobe house

SCGS-SC members who posed for photo.
California plaque designation

Tour guide explaining the original adobe and growth chart 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hispanic Saturday San Diego October 19, 2018 Saturday 1-3pm San Diego Central Public Library

John Schmal Presentations upcoming!

John Schmal has a presentations if you are unable to meet at Viva La Familia Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 1:00pm at Rancho Los Cerritos. please see his schedule.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Photographer needed

BillionGraves is hiring full-time photographers in the Los Angeles area!
That's right, we are looking for 5 full-time photographers to take pictures in cemeteries in the Los Angeles area during the month of November.
Ideal candidates will be photographing large cemeteries in the Los Angeles and surrounding cities. Candidates will be photographing cemeteries 10 am - 3 pm each day, so candidates must be able to walk and navigate through a cemetery quickly, safely, and efficiently. Need reliable transportation to drive to working cemeteries. Light administrative work required following each cemetery visit so good oral and written skills is required. Photographers will work directly with BillionGraves staff to assist in every aspect of the project. This is a temporary, full-time position during the month of November. This position can increase to additional projects in Los Angeles in subsequent months.
Pay will be $15-$20 based on experience.
Are you, or do you know anyone that would be interested in this fun and rewarding project to preserve cemeteries for family history!? We will be holding interviews in Los Angeles NEXT WEEK (Oct 23-24) for photography positions that start November 4, 2019 - November 29, 2019.
Email Bonnie@BillionGraves.com for more information.
The BillionGraves Team

GSHA-SC in the public!

On Saturday, October 12, 2019, GSHA-SC, represented by Cathy Romero, joined 123 other exhibitors at the daylong bazaar of historical, art, and social action groups at the USC Doheny Library. They all had stories to tell about Los Angeles. There were more exhibitors this year and it was great to talk to others exhibitors, students, and the interested public. GSHA-SC partnered with the Southern California Genealogical Society table and we were very busy with questions and stories. There will be a similar event in Orange County, "Murals, Memories, and Meaning-Making", Saturday, October 26, 2019, 11am - 5pm, Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University, 167 N. Atchison. St., Orange, California.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Viva La Familia Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 1:00pm at Rancho Los Cerritos

Rancho Los Cerritos is commemorating its 175th anniversary this year. It’s wonderful opportunity to visit and tour an early California house and gardens that were originally built in 1844.
 In 1784, a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto, received a land grant of 300,000 acres as a reward for his military service and to encourage settlement in California. Nieto’s acreage was reduced in 1790 because of a dispute with the Mission San Gabriel, but he still laid claim to 167,000 acres stretching from the hills north of Whittier to the sea, and from today’s Los Angeles River to the Santa Ana River. Upon his death in 1804, his children inherited his property.
In 1840, Don Manuel Nieto’s descendants were numerous. The land was held jointly by 12 Cota family members. Doña Rafaela Cota married John Temple and he bought out the shares of the other family members.
Please join us for a docent-led house tour begins at 1:00 p.m. with an optional garden tour afterwards. The house tour is about an hour long. There is free ample parking on the lower parking area. There is a smaller parking lot with handicapped spaces beyond the driveway gate. The group capacity will be limited to 30 persons for the 1:00 p.m. house tour tour. Admission is free but attendees for 1:00 pm tour need to RSVP to Cathy Romero, cath.romero@sbcglobal.net.
RSVP Deadline: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019
Genealogical Society of Hispanic America - Southern California
P.O. Box 2472, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
www.gsha-sc.org  •  Blog: http://gsha-sc.blogspot.com

Facebook: Genealogical Society of Hispanic America - Southern California

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Nuestras Raices at the Library of Congress

From Journal Editor, Donie Nelson
This donation would not have been possible without the research of Nuestras Raices staff member Hector Islas, who researched how the donation could be facilitated. We are also indebted to the journal's distribution chair, Abel Santistevan, who spent hours organizing all the issues and handling the very specific shipping instructions required by the Library of Congress.