Hundreds of thousands of genetic profiles for family history and ancestral purposes have been generated by private laboratories, universities, and the National Geographic’s Genographic Project during the past fifteen years. However, many individuals that had their DNA tested were somewhat disappointed, as the information provided by many laboratories is often difficult to understand. What do all these numbers and letters means? What can they tell about my past? As Ann Tuner and Megan Smolenyak stated in their book, Trace Your Roots with DNA, “test results for just one person are like the sound of one hand clapping.” The great paradox in genetic genealogy is the fact that in order to understand your own DNA, you need to know something about the DNA of everyone else! Thankfully, a number of online databases are providing large quantities of searchable data in an effort to provide the missing hand. Knowing which resources are available and how to properly use them is key to understanding our personalize genetic genealogy and getting the most out of our own genetic profile.
Ugo A. Perego, PhD, MSc, is the CEO for the Salt Lake City based Genetic Genealogy Consultant and a scientist affiliated with the DNA laboratory of Professor Antonio Torroni at the University of Pavia in Italy. He has previously worked for more than a decade as a senior researcher with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and GeneTree.com both based in Utah. Ugo earned a BSc and an MSc in Health Sciences at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) and a PhD in Genetic and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Pavia, Italy. Ugo has contributed numerous lectures and publications on DNA and its applications to population genetics, genealogy, ancestry, forensics, and history. Some of his recent publications include “Decrypting the mitochondrial gene pool of modern Panamanians” (in PLoS One, 2012); “The Mountain Meadows Massacre and ‘poisoned springs’: Scientific testing of the more recent, anthrax theory” (in International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2012) “Mitochondrial haplogroup C4c: a rare lineage entering America through the ice-free corridor?” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2011); “Expanding the concept of family history through DNA” (in Family Chronicle, 2010); “Mitochondrial DNA: a female perspective in recent human origin and evolution” (in Origins as a Paradigm in the Sciences and in the Humanities, 2010); and “The initial peopling of the Americas: a growing number of founding mitochondrial genomes from Beringia” (in Genome Research, 2010).