There's a science to telling our story.
AncestryDNA is cutting-edge technology with family history at its heart.
It began with a team of experts at the forefront of genomic science who saw the potential of the human genome and family history.
There's a story in DNA—and a story behind it.
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West African ethnicity breakthrough
What can genetic data tell us about the region's population groups?READ MORE
Science of ethnicity estimation
How does the DNA in your saliva record your family history in the first place?READ MORE
Nature Communications Publishes AncestryDNA Breakthrough on Genetic CommunitiesREAD MORE
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World Science Festival - The Science of Family Ties: 'It's All Relatives'
AncestryDNA Reconstructs Partial Genome of Person Living 200 Years Ago
Learn how AncestryDNA helps answer, "Who am I?"
As our customers look into their ethnic origins and connect with genetic relatives,
they see themselves in a new way.
Connected beyond Colombia
Isabel Rojas always identified with her Bogotá roots. But her DNA results took her ancestry to unexpected places.
Identity is an interesting concept. For the most part we like to believe that we define our own identity. The truth is a lot goes into defining our identity. And what it comes down to is what we accept as our own. The more we know about ourselves, our own experiences, our families past and heritage, and so on - the more our own identity changes and evolves and becomes further defined in our minds and accepted as our own. I have a lot of thoughts and experiences around this topic that have caused my own identity do grow and evolve over time. Here is a snapshot:
I was born in NYC, the youngest of 5 kids. My parents and three older siblings were born in Bogota, Colombia. My family migrated to NYC in the late 70’s looking for a better life. After my brother and I were born in the early 80’s my parents had begun to realize what a dangerous city it was at that time and decided to head back to Colombia. They worked hard to build a 3 story building where we would live, work, and rent out space. It was a 3 year process. But sadly Colombia at that time was worsening. Bomb threats throughout the city and in front of our new building became too much for my family. We made the trip back to NYC and a year later drove to Salt Lake City where we have lived for about 27 years.
People look at me and often wonder what I am. It is often both entertaining and frustrating when people attempt to find out where I am from. My name implies Hispanic/Latino and considering that is the largest ethnic/minority population in Utah it’s a pretty safe guess. However, when I’m with my Polynesian friends people think I’m Hawaiian or a mix of Polynesian and something else. In fact in high school I MC’d a Polynesian dance group because I could pull off the look. When I travel my friend have told me that they like having me around because I blend in just about anywhere. I recently attended a Nepali church service and had a few people ask me what part of Nepal I was from. It’s fun when people assume I am from a different culture/heritage than I am. And I have to admit it’s kind of entertaining watching people try to skirt around the inquiry as to where I am from.
I identify myself as Colombian, But the sad thing is that when I go to Colombia some family members consider me North American because I was born in the U.S. However, in the U.S. I am defined as Hispanic/Latino in just about every form of paperwork I fill out, by associates, friends, and strangers. I often weave in and out of the wonderful experience of growing up straddling two worlds and cultures and the feeling of being neither from here nor there. There is a constant pull between how other identify and define me and how I chose to define and accept myself, my heritage, my culture, and the unknown history that somehow contributes to who I am.
As my dad and I have begun to explore our genealogy the past 7 years or so, we’ve found that our family is largely from Spain which is no big surprise. My mom is white; her mother was also fair skinned with grayish blue eyes. Some of her cousins that live in Colombia are blond and blue eyed. But that isn’t rare in Colombia, let alone South/Central America. Colombians have a wide range of ethnicities and consequently a lot of racial discrimination. The Spanish influence is very much present and often people can easily say how many generations back are from Spain. My dad also suspects we have German ancestry somewhere back there.
I received an AncestryDNA kit a few years ago for my birthday. My friend knew I had been working on family history and thought I should give it a shot. Since then I’ve had my mother and grandmother on my father's side tested as well. What surprised me the most in my results was that I’m 35% Native American, 5% African, and 29% from the Iberian Peninsula. This has drastically broadened the way I think about my identity and heritage. I feel a sense of connectedness with those areas of the world now and am now anxious to dig deeper and see how far back our records can go. In a less personal sense, I feel like information like this can have a great influence on how people think and treat each other. My grandmother, who took pride in being of “pure blood”, meaning Spanish, would have completely rejected the notion that I’m 5% African, and likely would have blamed it on my father’s side.
There is great power in understanding our deepest heritage and history and in giving ourselves permission to connect with others through that heritage and knowledge. Its liberating in many ways.
When John Danby took an AncestryDNA test he hoped for some answers. He got generations of them.
Like many who work on their family history, our family had a few lines where we were really struggling to find more information. My 2nd great-grandfather was a mystery ancestor on one of those lines. We could not pin him to a specific census, nor could we find any information about his arrival in the United States. We did however believe he came from Jewish descent.
Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by another Ancestry member who used the AncestryDNA kit. He was the descendant of our mystery ancestor and as it turns out, was the 2nd cousin once removed of my father. He was able to point us to the correct 1860 census for the family where we were able to discover other family members, and we should now be able to trace their family back to France. So with this DNA cousin match, we’ve been able to add a generation to our family tree, as well as identify several siblings and their spouses. For immigration research, it’s so much easier to find a town of origin when you’re looking at an entire family who came over rather than just one individual, so I’m really excited about the prospects.
A true gift
Lehan Crane received a kit as a present. He never expected it would open a whole new chapter in his life.
In December of 2012 I received an AncestryDNA kit as a gift from my brother-in-law who was hoping to help me learn more about my roots as I was adopted.
More recently, an Ancestry employee was describing the AncestryDNA test to a potential investor and suggested he take the test to experience it. He did, and when his test results came back he was surprised to discover he was related to me either through a grandfather or great-grandfather. He did not recognize my name and when he shared the results with his father Greg, Greg was inspired to take the test as well. Greg's results indicated that I was a possible first cousin, and so he sent me a message.
In May of 2014 (less than two years after taking my own test), I received that letter from Greg. We eventually confirmed that we were half-brothers. While Greg's father was my father as well, my birth mother was in her early 20s when she was pregnant with me and had not informed my father. Within days of Greg’s letter, I discovered my half-brother and half-sister that I had never met.
Unfortunately, both of my biological parents have since passed away. But instead, I now have connected with my half-siblings Greg and Carole, his half-nephews and niece (Greg’s three sons and daughter), and their families. I’ve had the most heartwarming embrace from my new brother, sister, and their kids. This has opened a new chapter in my life—and it is a most welcome "life interruption." I look forward to meeting my family in person in December 2014.
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Terabytes of data examined, 15 advanced degrees, years of hard work, and a lot of rigorous science makes this group of 12 scientists extraordinary.
Meet the AncestryDNA science team.
Our team of expert population geneticists, statisticians, data scientists, engineers and molecular biologists are working with the latest technological advances to bring you some of the most powerful tools in genealogy research.
Ken Chahine, Ph.D.
Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Ancestry.com
Ken Chahine is President of Ancestry.com DNA, LLC and has been with the company since 2011. Prior to joining AncestryDNA, he held positions at several institutions, including Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals (currently Pfizer), the University of Utah and was also Chief Executive Officer of the biotechnology company Avigen. Dr. Chahine also teaches a course focused on new venture development, intellectual property, and licensing at the University of Utah's College of Law. He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Florida State University....
Catherine Ball, Ph.D.
VP Genomics and Bioinformatics, AncestryDNA
Catherine Ball is a genomic scientist who has annotated and mined the genomes of various organisms and created resources to help clinicians, citizens and other scientists exploit and explore genome data. Dr. Ball has collaborated on the annotation of the first sequenced eukaryotic genome (brewer's yeast) and has collaboratively built databases to explore the genomes of yeast, E. coli and the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. As a pioneer in data analysis resources for high-throughput biomedical technologies, she led the Stanford Microarray Database, the largest academic database of its kind. Dr. Ball has used high-throughput biomedical data to shed light on diverse research topics, from the biology of infectious organisms to the mechanisms involved in cell division and cancer. She received a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ball was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley prior to her research in the Departments of Genetics and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine. ...
Natalie Myres, M.S., M.B.A.
Director of Business Development, AncestryDNA
Natalie Myres has over 10 years of experience in the biotechnology industry with a focus on developing consumer-based DNA testing products. Prior to joining the AncestryDNA team, she began working at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), later becoming the Director of Research and Development. During her time at SMGF she has managed the bioinformatics and data production/processing functions associated with constructing the SMGF database, the largest database of linked genetic and genealogical information in the world. Ms. Myres has also managed product development and business development activities for SMGF. Additionally, Natalie works with an international team of scientists conducting research on the human Y chromosome, which focuses on understanding population affinity, substructure and history in modern-day populations. She is the co-author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications on Y chromosome population genetics. Ms. Myres received a B.S. in molecular biology and a M.S. in biochemistry from Brigham Young University. She also holds M.B.A. degrees from Columbia University and U.C. Berkeley. ...
Jianlong Qi, Ph.D.
Principal Data Scientist, AncestryDNA
Jianlong Qi is a computer scientist with expertise in machine learning. Dr. Qi has developed several novel algorithms with applications in bioinformatics, including reconstruction of transcriptional regulatory network from gene expression data and Genome-wide association study. Prior to joining Ancestry in May of 2013, Dr. Qi pursued his research career as a postdoctoral associate at Freiburg University in Germany and McGill University in Canada. Dr. Qi holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Concordia University and a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland. ...
Jake Byrnes, Ph.D.
Population Genomics Senior Analyst, AncestryDNA
Jake Byrnes is a biologist with expertise in evolution, population genetics and statistics. In his previous work, Dr. Byrnes used DNA sequence and genotype data to study human population expansion, migration, and evolution in the Americas. Using computer-aided statistical analysis, Dr. Byrnes was able to identify and date events such as European colonization of the Caribbean, the effects of sex-bias in the migration and was even able to identify which West African populations likely contributed to the slave-trade on the islands. Dr. Byrnes received a B.A. from the New College of Florida. He then moved to Chicago where he received an M.S. degree in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Chicago. After graduate school, Dr. Byrnes moved to Oxford, England where he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Welcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University. Most recently, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Carlos Bustamante's laboratory at Stanford University. ...
Mathew Barber, Ph.D.
Statistical Geneticist, AncestryDNA
Mathew Barber is a statistical geneticist with expertise in designing and implementing statistical tools for genetic data, from pedigree data to distantly related individuals. Dr. Barber received a Mathematics Degree from Nottingham University, UK. A biology and genetics enthusiast, he then took a Masters course in Biometry (biostatistics) at Reading University (UK), specializing in statistical genetics. Dr. Barber also worked as part of the Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, King’s College London. Following this, he undertook his Ph.D. studies at Cambridge University researching statistical methods for the analysis of genetics data. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Barber moved to the University of Chicago where he worked with Dr. Matthew Stephens and subsequently Dr. Dan Nicolae, both of whom are in the Departments of Statistics and Human Genetics. ...
Ross Curtis, Ph.D.
Computational Biologist, AncestryDNA
Ross Curtis joined the AncestryDNA team in January of 2012. His background is in computational biology, specializing in genetics and visual analytics, and he loves applying his expertise to family history and genealogy. Before AncestryDNA, Dr. Curtis focused on using visualization and statistics to discover genetic mutations that contribute to disease. Dr. Curtis received his B.S. from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Computational Biology from Carnegie Mellon University. ...
Keith Noto, Ph.D.
Senior Data Scientist, AncestryDNA
Keith Noto is a computer scientist with expertise in machine learning. Dr. Noto has developed several novel algorithms with applications in a variety of biologically-motivated tasks, including transcription factor discovery in mammalian DNA promoters, text classification and ranking for specialized biomedical databases, and anomaly detection in fetal human microarray data. Dr. Noto received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has extended his training by taking postdoctoral research appointments at the University of California at San Diego and most recently at Tufts University. ...
Yong Wang, Ph.D.
Senior Data Scientist, AncestryDNA
Yong Wang is a geneticist whose formal training emphasized understanding the evolutionary history of human populations. Dr. Wang’s research involves developing computational and statistical methods for genomic data analysis and estimating the demographic histories that best explain observed patterns of genetic variation among modern and ancient humans. Prior to joining AncestryDNA, Dr. Wang worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Rasmus Nielsen at the University of California, Berkeley, where he contributed to genome analyses of Aboriginal Australians and the Paleo-Eskimos. His work has led to a series of co-authored publications in high-impact scientific journals including Science, Nature and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS USA). Dr. Wang received a Ph.D. in Genetics and a M.S. in Statistics from Rutgers University. He also received a B.S. in Life Sciences and a B.E. in Computer Science from the University of Science and Technology of China. ...
Julie Granka, Ph.D.
Population Geneticist, AncestryDNA
Julie Granka is a biologist and a statistician with expertise in genetics and evolution. Dr. Granka has experience developing and applying advanced computational tools to genetic data to understand population history and evolution. During fieldwork in South Africa, she collected and analyzed DNA samples from an African hunter-gatherer population to uncover the genetic basis of human height and skin pigmentation. Dr. Granka has also analyzed numerous other African populations to identify regions of the human genome where positive natural selection has occurred in recent history. In addition, she has studied the genetics of other organisms, including M. tuberculosis, the organism that causes tuberculosis. Dr. Granka received a B.S. in Biometry and Statistics from Cornell University where she worked with Dr. Carlos Bustamante. Afterwards, she received an M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Biology with Dr. Marcus Feldman at Stanford University. ...
Sr. Genomics Data Scientist, AncestryDNA
Amir Kermany is a computational biologist with expertise in population genetics. Prior to joining AncestryDNA in July of 2014, Amir pursued his research career as a postdoctoral associate at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and in the Department of Mathematics at Université de Montréal (UDM). His Ph.D. research was focused on diffusion processes in population genetics and theoretical models for studying the evolutionary advantage of sex and recombination. During his appointment at UDM, Dr. Kermany developed a new method to calculate the fixation probability of a new mutation in a population, using the Ancestral Recombination-Selection-Graph and conducted research on ancestral processes in population genetics. As a postdoctoral associate at HHMI, he developed a new method to analyze genotypes obtained from trisomic products of conception to learn about the origins of aneuploidy in humans. Dr. Kermany holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Concordia University, a M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Ottawa, and a B.Sc. in Physics from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. On his time away from deciphering cryptic messages written on DNA, Dr. Kermany enjoys observing the products of evolution in nature, reading, swimming and biking. ...
Christine (Eunjung) Han
Computational Biologist, AncestryDNA
Christine (Eunjung) Han is a computational biologist with expertise in population genetics, statistics, and data visualization skills. Dr. Han’s research focus has been on the intersection of statistical genomics and evolution. She developed statistical methods to investigate the genetic basis of adaptive evolution during early dog domestication from grey wolves. In addition, she developed a fast and efficient dynamic programming algorithm to estimate population genetic summary statistics from large samples of low coverage next-generation sequencing data. She received a B.S. in Biotechnology from Yonsei University in Korea. Afterwards, Dr. Han received a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Biostatistics from University of California, Los Angeles where she worked with Dr. John Novembre and Dr. Janet Sinsheimer. ...
Computational Biologist, AncestryDNA
Peter Carbonetto is a computer scientist who has brought his broad experience in machine learning and large-scale computation to investigate important questions about the genetic basis of common diseases. In his research, Dr. Carbonetto has showed that developing more sophisticated statistical models can reveal additional links between genes and disease from existing medical studies. His recent work published in PLoS Genetics provided strong support for the role of cytokine signaling genes in inflammatory bowel disease, and IL2-mediated signaling genes in type 1 diabetes. Dr. Carbonetto received a B.Sc. in Computer Science from McGill University. From there, he moved to Vancouver, where he received a Masters and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. After graduate school, Peter Carbonetto moved to Chicago to pursue research at the intersection of genomics and large-scale computing. His postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago was supported by a cross-disciplinary fellowship from the Human Frontiers Science Program. ...
Scientific Advisory Board
Philip Awadalla, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Montreal
Dr. Philip Awadalla's research includes work relevant to human genomics and a broad range of chronic and rare diseases, including genetic infectious diseases in the developing world. Dr. Awadalla is also the Principal Investigator and Director of the CARTaGENE Biobank of Quebec. This prospective public health survey of Quebec, in its first phase, captured biological, clinical, genealogical and genomic data from over 20,000 participants. He is also co-director of the Centre for Child Health Genomics at University of Montreal and he currently holds the Genome Quebec recruitment award for Population and Medical Genomics. ...
Jeffrey Botkin, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Utah
Jeffrey Botkin is Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities and serves as the Associate Vice President for Research Integrity at the University of Utah. His research is focused on the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic technology with a particular emphasis on research ethics, genetic testing for cancer susceptibility, biobanking, newborn screening, and prenatal diagnosis. Dr. Botkin formerly was Chair of the Committee on Bioethics for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a former member of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections at DHHS. Dr. Botkin is currently a member of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Diseases in Newborns and Children. He chairs the NIH's Embryonic Stem Cell Working Group and is an elected fellow of the Hastings Center. ...
Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Genetics
Dr. Carlos Bustamante is a Population Geneticist who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His research focuses on analyzing genome-wide patterns of variation within and between species to address fundamental questions in biology, anthropology, and medicine. During the past nine years as a faculty member at Cornell and Stanford, he has trained about 40 post-doctoral fellows and graduate students as a primary advisor. Much of his research is at the interface of computational biology, mathematical genetics, and evolutionary genomics.
Mark Daly, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Mark Daly directs computational biology for the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School Medical and Population Genetics Program. Dr. Daly holds a B.S. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in genetics from Leiden University. Previously, he was the director of the Human Genetics Informatics group at the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research. Dr. Daly's group now currently develops and actively supports GENEHUNTER and MAPMAKER/QTL software, used by hundreds of labs worldwide, for performing linkage analyses in natural and experimental pedigrees and more recently has released Haploview, which has become a standard for LD analysis and is a primary analysis and visualization tool used in the HapMap Project. ...
John Novembre, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics
University of Chicago
John Novembre earned his Ph.D. under Dr. Montgomery Slatkin at the University of California-Berkeley, before taking an NSF Bioinformatics Fellowship at the University of Chicago under Dr. Matthew Stephens. At the University of Chicago, Dr. Novembre's research focuses on developing population genetic theory and statistical methods for population genetic data, such as high-throughput single nucleotide polymorphism data and next-generation sequencing data. His work focuses on question relevant to human evolution and ancestry, the mapping of disease traits, and spatial population structure. ...
White Papers & Patents
- AncestryDNA Ethnicity White Paper - PDF
- AncestryDNA: Matching
- AncestryDNA: DNA Circles
- Clustering of 770,000 genomes reveals post-colonial population structure of North America
- Ultra-fine structural inference and population assignment using IBD network clustering and classifiers accurately assign sub-continental origins represented in a large admixed U.S. cohort.
- Insights into the geographical distribution of genetic admixture of unrelated volunteer donors and recipients of stem-cell transplants
- Geographic and historic changes in Runs of Homozygosity Among More than 1,000,000 Individuals sheds light into the Recent Demographic History of US population
- Evidence for detailed historical European population structure from large-scale, diverse genetic polymorphism data
- Historical migrations and mating patterns affect the genetic landscape of the United States population today
- Patterns of IBD (identity-by-descent) sharing among 780,000 present-day Americans reveal geography and recent settlement history in the United States
- Geographic patterns of Identify-by-descent recapitulate fine-scale migration history of the African Americans
- Assessing the benefits of priors that encourage sparsity for estimating ancestral admixture from genome-wide data
- Genetic Testing of 400,000 Individuals Reveals the Geography of Ancestry in the United States
- Underdog: A Fully-Supervised Phasing Algorithm that Learns from Hundreds of Thousands of Samples and Phases in Minutes
- TIMBER - personalized computationally-efficient filtering of GERMLINE-discovered putative IBD segments
- Surveying European and West African Population Structure Using >2,300 Samples with Spatial Information
- Reconstruction of Ancestral Human Genomes from Genome-Wide DNA Matches
- The visualization of probabilistic results from consumer genetic testing for ethnicity at AncestryDNA
- Synthesizing genetic and genealogical data to trace historical waves of European and African immigration to the United States
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