Posted by Stephen Baloglu on November 12, 2012 in AncestryDNA, Events

San Francisco is home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli chocolate and touristy Fisherman’s Wharf. But this year, it’s also home to the largest human genetics conference and exposition in the world. This past week, the 2012 American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meeting brought together some of the world’s top geneticists and over 6,000 attendees. And on that roster are our top AncestryDNA scientists, who are presenting and discussing some of their latest research and findings in the field of human genetics.

Earlier in the week, AncestryDNA™ helped kick off a segment of the conference at the Illumina Discovery Symposium. Our very own Dr. Jake Byrnes, one of our Population Geneticists, gave a talk on Using Genetic Analysis to Empower Genealogical Research. In other words, he gave the conference a run-down on how AncestryDNA works including the methodology we use to test ethnicity and matching to a room of genetic experts—without spilling the beans on our trade secrets, of course. The talk was well-received and the attendees excited about the technology behind our product.

Many other leading AncestryDNA scientists contributed to the conference as well, including Dr. Ken Chahine, Sr. VP and General Manager of AncestryDNA; Dr. Catherine Ball, VP Genomics and Bioinformatics; Dr. Dr. Scott Woodward; Dr. Keith Noto; Natalie Myres; Norman Angerhofer; Dr. Mathew Barber; Dr. Yong Wang; and Dr. Ross Curtis. Their input and presentations of abstracts will cover several relevant topics. Here’s a quick overview.

AncestryDNA Abstracts at ASHG 2012

Pushing the boundaries: Using Haplotypes to infer ancestral origins for recently admixed individuals

This research presents new ways to look at people around the world, and continually pushes our thinking on how we determine ethnicity and population boundaries—specifically in challenging regions like Central Europe—with better data, better algorithms and better analysis.


Using Y-chromosomes Haplotypes to improve inferred ancestral origins in European populations

In a nutshell, this abstract illustrates how predictions of geographic ethnicity for European populations using autosomal genotypes can be improved by incorporating Y-chromosome information. In fact, using Y-haplogroup distributions to redraw regional boundaries within Europe improved ethnicity predictions by up to 9%.


Genetic evidence of multiple non-Asian migrations into the new world.

An analysis of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) Y-chromosome and mtDNA databases resulted in evidence for multiple migrations from the Iberian Peninsula into the New World (Mexico, Central and South America); specifically, two groups were identified—Basque males who share ancestry within the last 2000 years and a Jewish group in Mexico, which fled persecution during the Inquisition.


In summary, it was a great week. The AncestryDNA team is excited to be a part of the American Society of Human Genetics and would like to thank all of those who participated in the conference and shared their work in the field—there was a lot of exciting research and information on display. We look forward to continuing to innovate and break new ground for the use of genetics in the exciting world of family history. If you’d like to learn more about ASHG, you can click here.


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