Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2004-07 > 1090334148

Subject: Dodson Group Issue
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 14:35:48 +0000

I am posting a lengthy exchange that occurred on the Dodson list about the DNA project. Basicly their project is relatively new. Mary, asked a question. Mic an administrator from another "older" group posted the typical security discussion in response to an inquiry. Then Bud Dodson, a professional in the field posted a reply that basicly negates everything we say.
I am posting this in hopes that it will generate discussion. I am concerned about the things that Bud mentions, and if he is fundamentally corrent, then we have been misinforming people. I hope that Bennett or someone from FTDNA will reply as well, as this kind of information certainly does nothing to promote DNA testing for genealogical purposes.
Roberta Estes
On Monday 19 July 2004 07:49 pm, Mic Barnette wrote:
> Hi Mary:
> My name is Mic Barnette. My grandmother was a Dodson, so, I am interested
> in Dodson research.
> Also, I am the adminstrator for the Barnett Surname DNA Project.
> I thought I would chime-in as I get the same question asked of me as I
> talk to various people, not just genealogists.
> There is a lot of misunderstanding about what is going on in genealogical
> DNA testing.
> Your question is how would one be assured the administrator, in this
> case, Ray, or Family Tree DNA, the testing company or the actual
> geneticists in Phoenix might mis-use the DNA samples? Good question....
> My question back to you would be; How WOULD anyone misuse a sample? And
> 2) what would they get out of it?
> No one is buying DNA marker information, so there is no profit motive.
> The test only compares one person's DNA to another's in hopes they might
> share the same markers. If they do, they are probably related, if they
> don't they probably are not related. But, how would someone mis-use that
> kind of information? No one purchases this type of information and no one
> really cares other than the individuals doing the testing, or maybe
> another genealogist of the same family as one of the participants in the
> test group.
> There is a lot of confusion about what DNA testing is all about. There
> are different kinds of testing being done. In medical testing doctors are
> studying how to identify various types of diseases and how to cure them.
> In medicine doctors test to determine if an individual has an abnormality
> to that might cause of problem in a persons' health. In each case the
> scientists are only interested in specific allelles/markers on a strand
> of DNA.
> In criminal DNA testing the police are trying to prove the person they
> have in custody, or, are hoping to have in custody is the only person in
> the world who could have committed the specific crime they are trying to
> solve. In both cases they use totally different markers/allelles than we
> use in genealogical testing.
> In genealogical testing we want to find what is common between two males
> of the same surname. We want to prove we have a common ancestor. I allude
> this to math or English homework. We do our homework. We then go to the
> back of the book to check our answers.
> In contrast if we have done our library research and two people feel they
> have found a common ancestor they may or may not be right (only the
> mother in each generation knows). The only real way to genetically prove
> the connection is for two different living males descendants still
> carrying that same surname test and match DNA markers.
> So, maybe some day there will be a profit motive or some other kind of
> motive for people to misuse DNA. But, right now I have no idea what that
> motive would be.
> HOWEVER, Family Tree DNA, the administrators and the geneticists bend
> over backward not to devulge who has taken the test. When FTDNA sends the
> sample to the lab, the sample only has a number. The lab has no idea
> whose samle they are working with.
> The only place I know of where the names of participants is known is
> going to be the Barnett test and only by the approval ofthe participant.
> In our group I have been very careful to respect everyone's identity. I
> call them Participant 1, 2, 3, 3tc and back it up with Kit # XYZ. A few
> weeks ago my participants (we have 18) told me they would rather be
> refered to by their names than as Participant # . Each of them said they
> prefered anyone researching Barnetts know who they are rather than hide
> behind a number. I was participant number 1 and have made no bones about
> it. Several of the others said they wanted people to know who they were
> and wanted to be contacted by other family members whether or not their
> surname was Barnett.
> So, whenever I rework the website I will be doing away with the
> Paticipant number. If anyone in the future wants to remain anonymous we
> can just reference the kit number and not list their name. The only way
> anyone can find most of us is by email. There is no other contact address
> or telephone number listed on the website.
> Yours was a valid concern that I hear others ask. Hopefuuly I answered it
> acceptably. If I did not let me know and if you have any other concerns
> that I did not cover let me know.
> I am an expert in the first 10% of the DNA testing philosophy and
> innerworkings. It is with the other 90% I could use about a 6 (?) year
> medical degree to learn<smile>.

Well, notice the name in the signature: I am a Dodson, too (all
the way back to Charles). I also have a PhD in molecular biology,
and have been working as a professional in molecular biology (the
general term for people that "work with DNA" among other
biologically important molecules) and biochemistry for more than
35 years. If anyone cares, my particular research interest has to
do with the damage done to DNA by exposure to ultraviolet light
(think too much sun at the beach) and the responses of the cell to
that damage. Most of my professional career has been in academics
(medical college professor), but I have spent some time in
industry, as well. I would plead guilty to being an expert in the
other 90%. But enough of my bona fides.

I'm not, per se, opposed to what you are trying to do. I don't
think it will give you what you want, but you are welcome to try.
We research scientists try to not be too judgmental about other
people's research efforts, and besides, your criteria for success
might be quite a bit more easily satisfied than mine.

I think you are being dramatically cavalier in downplaying the
potential for abuse, though. We in the research medical community
have spent a lot of time thinking about this issue, and that
thinking has recently resulted in the HIPA laws which, among other
things, protect the privacy of this kind of information in
patient's files. You are seriously naive if you think there is
little or no overlap between the set of markers used in medical
diagnosis and the set of genealogically useful markers. To get
maximum use of the genealogically important information in a DNA
analysis, the markers would need to be essentially the same as
those used in genetic diagnosis. Think about it. And while
thinking about it, remember the definition of genetics.

And don't restrict your thinking to what people want to do right
now. A DNA sample, properly preserved, can be accurately analyzed
tens, if not hundreds of years in the future. And if it becomes
public knowledge that you have willingly and knowingly given a DNA
sample to a public information database developer and distributor,
the properties of that DNA (your name and the distribution of
markers, for example) may be in the public domain. Even if not,
it would certainly be subject to subpoena in certain kinds of
court cases.

You don't have to be worried about black helicopters and wear a
tinfoil hat to realize the potential for abuse of detailed genetic
information (with the donor identified) in the hands of an
unscrupulous group. I'll not name the kind of group I'm thinking
of, lest I get readers employed by that kind of company upset.
(I'm NOT thinking about DNA database companies.) Use your
imagination and read the newspapers; there IS a well known profit
motive at stake.

Educate yourself fellow Dodsons. There are many more issues
involved in this than those exposed in an episode of CSI.

Be well,

Bud Dodson

M. L. Dodson
409-772-2178 FAX: 409-772-1790

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