7:55 PM

Genographic Study Update

Posted by Skye |

So, this weekend my Genographic Particpation Kit arrived. As I read through the paperwork and watched the DVD, I discovered that my reasons for hesitation these past two years were right.

No, I do not believe this is all a nefarious government plot to gain unauthorized access to my DNA. My concerns regarding this study are grounded in reality, not based on vague fears and paranoia.

I discovered a glaring discrepancy in the method of collecting the buccal cells for DNA analysis. The DVD has the PI - Dr. Spencer Wells - demonstrating the collection procedure. He instructs the participants to scrape the inside of their cheek for 60 seconds. The writen instructions included with the kit direct participants to scrape the inside of their cheek 'for about 30 seconds'. This is a huge no-no! Inconsistent collection leads to inconsistent results. This study already has participants collecting the sample on their own, virtually a built-in inconsistency; adding to this a discrepancy with the instructions adds another layer to the variation of collection. The structure of this study is a good example of GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out.

The informational booklet supplied with the kit states "If the project is to be truly global, it must sample the genetic inheritance of us all - and this provides an opportunity for broad public participation as well."

The design of this study contradicts this lofty goal when you take into account the following features of this study:

Cost: $100 plus tax and shipping. I don't care if the test were $1, this is a financial impediment that stratifies the pool of available participants by socio-economic levels. This is not a good way to capture a broad range human DNA samples.

Results are only available to the participant online. This is technological impediment. How many people around the world have easy access to the internet? Adding to this, one must order the kit online. The financial and technical obstacles in this study narrow the pool of likely participants in this study hampering the ability of the researchers to make any determination about our 'deep ancestry'.

I suspect this study was designed not to gather DNA for evil government purposes, but to finance grants for Dr. Wells globe-tripping research.

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