Research | Genetic Ancestry Testing

Understanding opinions and impacts of genetic ancestry testing

Perspectives and Experiences of Genetic Ancestry Test-Takers

Goal: Assess perceptions and the ethical and social implications of genetic ancestry testing processes.

Collaborators: Morris Foster, Rick Kittles, Chantelle Wolpert

Funder: National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

Despite concerns about the potential impact of genetic ancestry testing on test-takers, there is a dearth of empirical data on the actual experiences of individuals who have participated in genetic ancestry testing. The goal of this project is to assess the long-term impact of genetic ancestry testing on prior participants in ancestry testing.

The current mixed methods study employs in-depth interviews and surveys to gather data from the prior participants on their perceptions and experiences since the initial study a decade ago. Our research with this unique group of participants allows us to better understand the actual benefits, harms, and risks of DNA ancestry testing and the perspectives of test-takers on genetic ancestry testing in general.


 

Community Views on Genetics and Genetic Ancestry Testing

Goal: Gain insight into the views of Tribal communities on genetic ancestry testing and its role in ongoing disputes surrounding identity, citizenship, and rights.

Collaborators: Jessica Blanchard, Gloria Tallbull, Morris Foster

Funder: National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

The use of genetic testing for ancestry purposes has significant implications for individuals seeking to authenticate specific ancestral identities to secure tribal membership, as well as for tribal nations whose sovereign rights to determine membership may be challenged by the introduction of such testing.

This project utilizes ethnographic fieldwork, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and public forums to gain insight into the views of the Oklahoma Freedmen and the Tribal communities in Oklahoma on genetic ancestry testing and its role in ongoing disputes surrounding identity, citizenship, and rights.


 

 

US Public Perspectives on Genetic Ancestry Testing

Goal: Examine public perceptions of genetic ancestry testing.

Collaborators: Robert Agans, Kerry Haynie, Anna Hoffmeyer, William Kalsbeek, Chantelle Wolpert

Funder: National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

Today, individuals can access their personal genetic and genomic information from a wide range of providers, including scientific researchers, medical doctors, and commercial vendors. Reportedly 500,000+ individuals have purchased direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA ancestry tests, that can provide clues about where a person’s ancestors might have come from and the populations with which they might be affiliated.

Scholars have highlighted scientific limitations and potential ethical, legal, social, political, and psychological implications of genetic ancestry testing and information. Many have also raised concerns that genetic ancestry misrepresents the relationship between ancestry and race; race and genetics; and genetics, ancestry, race, and disease risks. Still, little is known about the awareness and opinions of the US public about genetic ancestry testing as well as race and genetics.