PROVO -- Ancestry.com has launched AncestryDNA, a new affordable DNA test that enables purchasers of the DNA test and subscribers of Ancestry.com to combine new state-of-the-art DNA science with the world's largest online family history resource and a broad global database of DNA samples.
The new DNA test analyzes a person's genome at over 700,000 marker locations, cross referencing an extensive worldwide DNA database with the aim of providing exciting insights into their ethnic backgrounds and helping them find distant cousins who may hold the keys to exciting family history discoveries. By combining these genetic matches with Ancestry.com's 34 million family trees and 9 billion records, AncestryDNA intends to provide a differentiated experience that helps find common ancestors dating back as far as the middle 18th Century.
"We've worked hard at Ancestry.com for more than a year building, testing, and reinventing our approach to genetic genealogy," said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. "We think AncestryDNA has created a unique and engaging experience that will provide existing Ancestry.com subscribers with an entirely new way to make amazing discoveries about their family history. We are excited to be making AncestryDNA available to loyal Ancestry.com subscribers first…but we look forward to eventually opening up this service to everyone. We think it will allow us to extend our mission to help people discover, preserve, and share their family history to an even greater audience."
AncestryDNA helps determine geographic and ethnic origins by comparing test-takers' unique DNA signatures to the DNA of people from across the globe -- drawn from the preeminent collection of DNA samples assembled by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. The current version of the test includes 22 worldwide geographical and ethnic categories, including six regions in Europe, five regions in Africa, and Native American.
"We think the newest DNA technology will dramatically change family history research. For the experienced genealogist it will help break down brick walls and for the casual family historian it will make it easier than ever to get started," said Ken Chahine, Ph.D., J.D. Senior Vice President and General Manager of Ancestry.com DNA, LLC. "While the science is cutting edge, the new online experience is simpler and more intuitive than ever before. We've already had overwhelming response and positive feedback from beta users as they discover relatives and uncover the treasures their ancestors passed down through DNA. DNA picks up where the paper trail leaves off. Genomic science can extend family history research into parts of the world where few paper records are available."
Interest in exploring family history is rising quickly, especially on the scientific front, and that interest extends all the way back to the "old country," wherever it may be. In fact, 56 percent of Americans recently surveyed by Harris Interactive are interested in taking a DNA genealogy test, up from 42 percent less than a year ago. What's more, people's family history interests reach back beyond arrival in America -- nearly two in three respondents told Harris that learning about pre-U.S. family members is one of the most important benefits of researching family history.
AncestryDNA will initially be made available by invitation-only to Ancestry.com subscribers for $99, with the expectation that the service will be made available to the general public later this year.
In preparing to bring AncestryDNA to market with the best science and a broad set of research assets, AncestryDNA has organized a distinguished and independent Science Advisory Board and has also acquired access to DNA samples, many of which had been assembled by the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. AncestryDNA will be offered through Ancestry.com DNA, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com.
With the continued focus on developing a solid DNA platform that stays ahead of the genetic genealogy trends, AncestryDNA has assembled a well-respected Scientific Advisory Board that can advise the company on best practices in the emerging field of DNA and genomic testing. The board consists of:
Carlos D. Bustamante, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine
-- Mark J. Daly, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Center for Human Genetics
-- John Novembre, Ph.D., Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
-- Jeffrey R. Botkin, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Ethics, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Utah
-- Philip Awadalla, Ph.D., Director of the CARTaGENE BioBank, Saint Justine Hospital, Montreal, Canada.
In March, Ancestry.com DNA, LLC acquired access to an extensive collection of DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, a non-profit organization. Founded by molecular genealogy pioneer, James LeVoy Sorenson, this organization has been dedicated to building the world's foremost collection of DNA samples and corresponding genealogical information. Over the last 12 years, the Sorenson Foundation collected a one-of-a-kind DNA database of tens of thousands of DNA samples with documented family histories in more than 100 countries on six continents. This DNA database gives AncestryDNA test-takers an expanded family history genetic resource, and should enable new levels of discovery about people's family backgrounds.
Jim Sorensen, President of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, added, "We are pleased to bring this far reaching, unique DNA collection to AncestryDNA. My father, James L. Sorenson, envisioned creating a genetic map of the peoples of the world that shows relationships shared by the entire human family and with the shared vision and resources of AncestryDNA his legacy will greatly expand. We are confident in the capabilities and dedication of the team to realize the potential of genetic genealogy faster than anyone else in the field. We see this as a great benefit to consumers as well as the scientific community by combining some of the best science with the leader in family history."