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Genetics for Genealogy

This page provides a platform to organize and distribute workshop and course materials on the genetics of genealogical relationships. Here you will find slide presentations from past events along with links to web pages containing detailed explanations of certain topics.

Source: Bryant McAllister, PhD

Overview:  With a single mouse-click sophisticated genetic tests for human ancestry analysis are available directly to consumers at a relatively low cost. Advances in human genetics over the past 30 years have enabled the emergence and growth of this “recreational genetics” marketplace. My goal is to introduce the science underlying these tests, compare the products delivered by the companies that dominate the US marketplace (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritageDNA, and The Genographic Project), and demonstrate their utility. Personal genetic analysis provides a window into the past at different time scales, including genetic inferences of pre-genealogical ancestry along with the discovery of genetic relationships between cousins as a genealogical research tool. They also provide the means to glean information from your own DNA recipe.


  • Evaluate the products and deliverables of direct-to-consumer DNA tests
  • Conceptualize the organization of the human genome and properties that contribute to its variability among individuals
  • Build proficiency in the methods and interpretation of test results of human ancestry and biological relationships

I posted a few times in the summer of 2015 when 23andMe and AncestryDNA both reached the threshold of genotyping their first million customers. I'm consistently amazed at how popular these commercial DNA tests have become. In this year, 23andMe has grown to 2 million customers in the 10 years since launching the first version of their DNA testing service. AncestryDNA now has 5 million customers https://www.ancestry.…

Upcoming Events

Genealogy Lock-In

May 19, 3-8pm, Digital Media Room (2nd Floor), Iowa City Public Library

3:00-4:00pm Iowa Genealogical Society instructor Linda Greethurst will present "My Tree is Sick... What Can I DO?" She'll explain how you can save lots of time and frustration by analyzing your sources and facts so you can avoid a painful and major pruning of your family tree later. Greethurt herself discoved that a long researched branch of her own family tree was not only sick but based on fiction at best. 

4:00-5:00pm Iowa Genealogical Society President Kevin Spire will discuss using Google in genealogical research. 

5-5:45pm Dinner Break

5:45-8:00pm ICPL After Hours: If you want to stay for the after-hours part of our day, please join ICPL staff in the Digital Media Lab on the 2nd floor by 5:45pm as the Library will be closing at 6:00pm. You'll need to be in the Lab before the library closes. (You can leave at any time). You'll have access to the library’s print and online resources to either begin your tree or find a new piece of information, and ICPL staff and members of the UI Personal Genome Learning Center will be here to help where we can. From experienced researcher to new to genealogy, all are welcome!

May meeting of the DNA Interest Group - Iowa City

How Genes Inform Drug Therapy

May 22, 6-7pm, Meeting Room A, Iowa City Public Library

A discussion of how genetic variations can be used to predict an individual’s response to certain pharmacological drugs. The presentation will focus on explaining the link between genetics and drug metabolism, analyzing DTC and clinical pharmacogenomic testing resources, and discussing cases in which pharmacogenomic testing can have an impact on drug therapy.


Complete this interest form if you would like to be notified by email of future classes and events.

Past Events & Materials

DNA Interest Group

The Human Genome - April 2018

Why the Y? (and not the mtDNA) - March 2018

What Are You? Rave, Ethnicity and Genetic Testing - February 2018

Changes in the DNA Marketplace - January 2018

Doggy DNA - November 2017

Identifying and Predicting Relationships - October 2017

Reference Pedigree and Shared cM Summary

Family History Revealed: Part 2 - Finding - September 2017

Family History Revealed: Part 1 - Searching - August 2017

Saigon to Sioux City

Archaic Ancestry - July 2017

Genetic CommunitiesTM at AncestryDNA - June 2017

DNA Mythbusters - May 23, 2017

DNA Day 2017 - Personalizing Genetics Education - April 25, 2017

Student Genetic Ancestry Testing - Dr. Charles Aquadro, Cornell University

Interpreting SNP Data - March 28, 2017

Ancestry Prediction - February 24, 2017

Exploring the DNA Marketplace - January 24, 2017



The Personal Genome: Navigating the DNA Marketplace

Triangle Club, Iowa City, IA - February 18, 2018

Full pdf Slides ppt

Using DNA in Genealogy: Navigating the DNA Marketplace

Franklin Avenue Library, Des Moines, IA - February 21, 2017

Slides Handout

The Personal Genome: The Past Revealed through Genetic Tests

UIAA Lifelong Learning - November 9, 2016, 6:30 pm


Courses - October 2016

Genetics for Genealogy: Hands-On Computer Workshops

Kirkwood Regional Center at The University of Iowa, Room 60

Getting to Know Your DNA Relatives - October 5 & 6, 2016

Guide - SNP Matching

Slides - Oct. 5

Slides - Oct. 6

Shared Matches Worksheets

Building DNA Families - October 12 & 13, 2016

Guide - SNP matching

DNA Family Worksheet

DNA Summary Spreadsheet

Slides - Oct. 12

Slides - Oct. 13

Courses - August 8-11, 2016

Genetics for Genealogy: Hands-On Computer Workshops

John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center, Des Moines, IA

Getting to Know Your DNA Relatives - August 8 & 9, 2016

Guide - SNP Matching

Concept map

Slides - Aug. 8

Slides - Aug. 9

Building DNA Families - August 10 & 11, 2016

Guide - SNP matching

DNA Family Worksheet

DNA Summary Spreadsheet

Slides - Aug. 10

Slides - Aug. 11

2016 Spring Conference - Iowa Genealogical Society

DNA: Unlocking the Code (Syllabus)

April 9, 2016 - Des Moines, IA

Session 1 - Navigating the DNA Marketplace (slides)

Session 2 - Connecting Cousins for Genetic Genealogy (slides)

Session 3

  • Option A - Getting More from Your SNP Data (Advanced - slides)
  • Option B - Small-Group Tutorials (Beginner)

Session 4 - Ancestry Analysis from DNA (slides)






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