in General

The Start of a Journey in Genetics

On the first day of 2013 I prepared a container of spit to send off to 23andMe, an organization that will genotype my DNA from the sample and provide me with a large amount of information about who I am genetically. In about a month I should be able to find out more about my ancestry, health and other traits. I intend to share a lot of what I learn here.

In 2012 I lost a number of relatives, including my mother. By the end of the year this loss had fostered an increased interest in learning and documenting more about my family’s remembered history and the deeper ancestral roots we share. I decided to participate in 23andMe in part to share what I learn with my family. Where in the world might our ancestors have lived? Are there genetic markers we have that might indicate health concerns we would be able to minimize?

For a long while I’ve wanted to have my DNA analyzed out of curiosity and wonder at the feat that sequencing entails. In recent years the costs of genotyping have dropped significantly and when I ordered my kit it was only $100. I won’t have a full sequence of my DNA prepared, but I will have one million variants analyzed. I’ll learn of my ancestral composition, find distant genetic relatives, trace my maternal and paternal ancestry, learn what percentage of my ancestry is neanderthal, learn if I am related to important historical figures, learn my disease risks, discover if I am a carrier for diseases, determine if there are drugs I should not take, and have a unique DNA Melody prepared from my genotype.

23andMe shares a wealth of information about its processes, genetics in general and stories from people who have been genotyped. Here are some pieces I’ve found helpful or interesting as I begin this journey:

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