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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

National DNA Day 2018 - Iowa City - April 24

Celebrating Genomics Through Awareness

Digital Media Room (2nd Floor), Iowa City Public Library

Festival of Genetics, 3-6 pm

Activities and demonstrations of DNA principles for all ages, including a help desk for guidance with interpretations and previews of DNA test results from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc.

April meeting of the DNA Interest Group - Iowa City, 6-7 pm

The Human Genome

National DNA Day commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project 15 years ago in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix 65 years ago in 1953. The program will provide a historical overview of the timeline for sequencing the human genome and summarize major outcomes of this effort, while also engaging the audience in a game of human genome trivia.


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

Past Events & Materials

DNA Interest Group

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


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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