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DNA data added to ancestry Web site

Published: Monday, June 18 2007 12:42 a.m. MDT

DNA technician Meaghan Roache works on DNA quantitation at the Sorenson Genomics laboratory in Salt Lake City on Friday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

Enlarge photo»

Two Utah-based companies have entered a partnership, announced today, that will help people use DNA technology to conduct genealogical research.

The Generations Network Inc. of Provo, the parent company for the genealogical Web site Ancestry.com, and Salt Lake-based Sorenson Genomics are teaming up to create "an incredible combination of resources designed to demonstrate how closely we are all related," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network.

Ancestry.com officials say the site has more than 14 million users and the world's largest collection of online family trees. Sorenson Genomics is one of the world's largest genetic genealogy laboratories and DNA testing companies. With the new association between the two, Ancestry.com customers will be able to add scientific technology as a tool in researching their genealogy.

"Entering the DNA category is a natural and powerful extension of our company's mission to connect families across distance and time," Sullivan said.

Those interested in utilizing the new service will simply take a cheek-swab test to obtain their own DNA data, then compare the results with existing DNA information in the Web site's searchable database. Company officials say that will allow people to easily uncover genealogical connections that were nearly impossible just a few years ago, and to discover lost or unknown relatives within a few generations. That information could also provide insight into the origin of families going back thousands of years.

"DNA research becomes more meaningful to people searching for relatives as more peoples' DNA results become part of the database," said Doug Fogg, COO of Sorenson Genomics.

Previously, Sorenson had provided DNA testing and database matching services through its genetic genealogy division, Relative Genetics. With the new partnership, Relative Genetics customers and the division's DNA database will become part of The Generations Network. Ancestry.com will now market those DNA testing and matching services, for the purpose of genealogical research, through its Web site.

"After looking at a lot of options ... we determined a partnership with Sorenson Genomics was just a fantastic idea, putting together two very important players in genealogy and DNA testing," Sullivan said. "

Officials of both companies say the partnership is a milestone and "revolutionary" venture for the DNA genealogy field.

Ancestry.com, launched in 1997, has a complete online U.S. Census collection from 1790-1930 and a large collection of U.S. passenger ship registries with more than 100 million names from 1820-1960. Other Web sites owned by The Generations Network include MyFamily.com, Rootsweb.com and Genealogy.com.

Sorenson Genomics has provided genetic testing services for genealogical purposes since 2001. It conducted the DNA testing for the PBS TV series "African-American Lives," which traced the roots of Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg and others.

For more information, go to www.ancestry.com or www.sorensongenomics.com.


E-mail: zman@desnews.com

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