AncestryDNA at the 2012 Consumer Genetics Conference

Posted by Crista Cowan on October 5, 2012 in AncestryDNA, Events

The 4th annual Consumer Genetics Conference in Boston, Massachusetts is a gathering of hundreds of thought leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs with a shared interest in the field of genetics. Our own Dr. Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA, was invited to give a keynote presentation on the AncestryDNA product, how it works, and what its latest innovations mean for the future of genetics.

Let’s take a look at a few of the key messages from Ken’s presentation:


Genetic ethnicity discovered

Most of what people know about their ethnicity is based on their family trees. “Where was Grandma from? Spain? Okay, I’m Spanish.” But your AncestryDNA genetic ethnicity results can paint a deeper picture, one that connects you with the migrations and histories of the regions of the world over the past 500 to 2,000 years.  For example, many customers from Southern Europe are surprised to see results indicating a small amount of North African heritage. But against the historical backdrop of Moorish influence on the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, it makes perfect sense. People did a lot of migrating, invading, and colonizing throughout history, which makes the job of predicting ethnicity challenging, but always interesting.   The same is true for people of the British Isles who find they have a surprisingly high percentage of Scandinavian ethnicity compared to the birth locations of people in their family tree ‑ it is probably reflecting a deeper ancestry.


DNA member matching

Researching family history is not just always about finding ancestors, but sometimes living relatives as well. AncestryDNA matching has delivered over a half million 1st-4th cousin relationships to our members. A simple, yet powerful interface allows users to easily review potential DNA matches and quickly access public member trees to verify the connection. In addition, over 100,000 shared ancestors have been found between AncestryDNA users. Hints to shared ancestors do the work for you to find the link in your family tree on and our simple interface shows exactly where this new ancestor fits.


Confident connections made through DNA

Matching confidence at AncestryDNA is built on a groundbreaking analysis performed by the AncestryDNA geneticists, partnered with the experts from the Sorenson Molecular Genomics Foundation team. This analysis, performed in the lab, is seen on your very own web browser, translated as “confidence” levels provided in your AncestryDNA results. So, when you get a 4th cousin DNA match that shows as 96% confident, know that information is based on a highly scientific analysis to help you take action with your DNA results.


What’s new for 2013

AncestryDNA believes that our customers have the right to their own genetic data. It is your DNA, after all. So we’re working to provide access to your raw DNA data in early 2013, which includes related security enhancements to ensure its safety during every step of the process. Moving forward, we plan to add even more tools and improvements for our customers, and any new features will be available to all AncestryDNA members.


We’d like to thank the organizers and attendees of the Consumer Genetics Conference 2012. We plan to continue to be a part of the genetics landscape moving forward and will be at more events, including the American Society of Human Genetics in San Francisco, where we will present some amazing new discoveries that our scientists have been working on.

About Crista Cowan
Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist.Google Twitter


2 CeCe MooreOctober 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Wow, Crista! This is terrific news that AncestryDNA will be providing raw data to their customers. I had a feeling that Dr. Chahine’s keynote would be interesting. I wish I could have attended. Thank you for keeping us updated.

CeCe Moore

3 Karl GreenwoodOctober 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Crista for the update! Looking forward to having raw data and seeing how the product evolves. :)

4 Carolyn MacklemOctober 6, 2012 at 6:43 am

Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop Crista. I had my husband do the DNA test although I really wanted to do it. So I am hoping that more opportunities will come up so that I can get my own results.

5 ValerieOctober 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

You say:

“In addition, over 100,000 shared ancestors have been found between AncestryDNA users. Hints to shared ancestors do the work for you to find the link in your family tree on and our simple interface shows exactly where this new ancestor fits.”

I have multiple ancestry hints that are wrong. I would like to be able to reject these hints. Also, I have found matches that Ancestry did not. I would like to be able to show the connection. I hope that this is one of the planned improvements.

6 scwbcmOctober 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm

“I have multiple ancestry hints that are wrong.” How do you know they are wrong if the raw data has not been released yet? Are you prejudging or have you tested elsewhere and received the raw data there and found it to be incorrect?

7 ValerieOctober 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

When I say the hints are wrong, I mean that they have mis-matched the trees. They have connected a person in my tree to a person in someone else’s tree and they are not the same person. It’s the same way that you get record hints in your tree and they are not the right person. In your tree you have the option to review the hint and then either reject it or add it to your tree. It should be the same for the DNA Ancestor Hints.

8 Bob Brown, aka Gene HunterOctober 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

Do you have a “bridk wall” in your genealogical information? If you do, consider this. Your DNA test is supplying you, and your matches,with information on connections to people that you, quite possibly, do NOT realize are your ancestors. Neither by name, nor by biological connection.
My DNA test supplied me with a link to a 4th cousin match with a 96% accuracy factor, which we CAN NOT figure out. This connection exists, but the necessary information ( 5 generations back) is no longer accessible.
To discuss this further, PLEASE contact me via my e-mail address, subject “brick walls “.

9 melanie woodOctober 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

I have enjoyed my journey via A.Com sooo much! I’m about the last living elder of my line, except for a cranky, athiest half-bro age 87. (I’m doing his line for a birthday present – his dad was from a founding member of LDS ….and…our originating maternal ancestor was thrown in jail and “banished from Ireland” for not taking his quaker hat off in the church offices. Thank God for that! I’d never be here! I also found indications in history of just how my birth family’slives were shattered a generation before I was born. Sad, difficult lives: children rearing (or abandoning) their children. I also found real family: 1st & 2nd cousins nearby, and am enjoying meeting up with them and finding so many commonalities. Many thanks to A.C!

[...] Legal Genealogist points me to the fact that AncestryDNA is now going to work on allowing users to download their data. Here’s the specific section: [...]

[...] Read the full anouncement here:  AncestryDNA at the 2012 Consumer Genetics Conference. [...]

12 SusanOctober 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I’m eagerly awaiting my 2nd cousin’s test results, to see that we get matched by DNA. And hopefully if the same people that are 4-6th cousins match up so we can figure out where we connect with other people. Hopefully? Because at the moment I can’t do much with all this information. I look at it everyday, but I just can’t find any connections so far….
But I’ll keep hunting!

[...] Legal Genealogist points me to the fact that AncestryDNA is now going to work on allowing users to download their data. Here’s the specific [...]

[...] Legal Genealogist points me to the fact that AncestryDNA is now going to work on allowing users to download their data. Here’s the specific [...]

15 ImeeOctober 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Hi, I find your post very informative. Thank you for making this topic intriguing and enjoyable to read for everyone.

16 GfbAEVOctober 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

We suggest you offer your website in a german translation, too.

17 Ancestry DNA Customers To Receive Array DataOctober 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

[...] raw array data downloadable. Crista Cowan, a genealogist at, wrote an Oct. 5 post on the company’s blog about the company’s plans to give customers access to their raw [...]

[...] issues, Ancestry is lauding this inherent error as a discovery, as stated by their executives at recent conferences and elsewhere in the press, and using is it as a marketing ploy.  Well, it is the season for [...]

19 Gayle F.November 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I have had DNA testing done by another company. Can my results from those tests be uploaded to

20 JennyDecember 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Re: comment #18: you can have ancestors from whom you’ve inherited no genetic material. Your father can take an autosomal DNA test and receive a match with someone that you don’t match at all. There’s a lot we don’t understand about inheritance. It’s easy to say “You’re wrong, wrong, wrong,” to people who are trying to figure things out; but such self-righteous indignation is irritating and counter-productive.

21 allycat113February 10, 2013 at 9:19 am

“A simple, yet powerful interface allows users to easily review potential DNA matches and quickly access public member trees to verify the connection.”

Simple? Yes. Powerful? Debatable.

I have received 9 ‘hinted’ DNA matches – apparently a fairly good return according to much of what I have read. This is particularly interesting as my father was adopted, and I have matched to his adoptive family! Also, I am finding surnames as well ancestors in these adoptive matches that match to my ex-husbands tree, who also participated in the DNA test for the benefit of our daughters.

These results are exciting and have prompted me to have my brother yDNA tested in effort to find my father’s birth family. So, my concern is not with the results, but rather the tool.

When is Ancestry going to understand how absolutely cumbersome it is to wade through 50 pages of distant cousin matches, the majority of which are locked, have no tree or fewer than 1000 people? It makes NO SENSE to spend time opening trees to cousins generations removed if they simply do not contain enough individuals to draw a common line. Therefore, WE NEED A DELETE TOOL ON THE MATCH PAGES, so we can eliminate these distractions without having to first go to the page. It is simply a horrible waste of time and effort for absolutely no payoff.

Further, we desparately need more filters and searches. As I said, my father was adopted; however, I am in the process of receiving his adoption papers. While I have a line on his mother’s name, there is no way of knowing as of yet whether she was married, unmarried or using an alias. I would like to be able to bypass all the useless matches and simply search for those matches containing specific names.

Filters should include: maternal and paternal line matches, matches to trees with 1000+ individuals, surname matches beyond the 10th generation cutoff and customizable filters by surname and location.

I have found matches in the ‘very low confidence’ range and wish to explore the trees that are worthy of effort. However, the thought of paging through 5000+ possible matched trees (most of them with little or no individuals to research) is unappealing.

Until Ancestry makes these kind of changes to the match pages, I would hesitate to call the tool “powerful”. In its present state, it loses it’s novelty and purpose and becomes daunting, tedious and boring very quickly.

C’mon Ancestry. You’ve built eminence in genealogy…the Scandinavian and Raw Data Controversies notwithstanding, you can do better than this. And at $300 a year + testing, we deserve better than this.

22 pozycjonowanieFebruary 28, 2013 at 6:04 am

Yes this YouTube video is much superior than last one, this one has fastidious picture quality as well as audio.

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