Now Casting Within the United States: Could a DNA test change your life?

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2021-05-05 03:00Z by Steven

Now Casting Within the United States: Could a DNA test change your life?

2021-05-01
Shed Media
Los Angeles, California

A major new TV series from the production company behind “Long Lost Family”, “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Supernanny”.

Could a DNA test change your life?

Series now casting for participants with an interest in finding unknown family members and the willingness to take a journey of discovery via their DNA.

Would you like to unravel a family mystery buried in the past? Are you longing to identify your father? Discover unknown siblings? Could a DNA test help to dispel doubts or rumors about your family? Answer questions about your heritage? Or are you generally curious to widen your family circle?

Interested applicants can apply here.

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Brazilian butt lift: behind the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Women on 2021-02-10 02:23Z by Steven

Brazilian butt lift: behind the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery

The Guardian
2021-02-09

Sophie Elmhirst

The BBL is the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world, despite the mounting number of deaths resulting from the procedure. What is driving its astonishing rise?

The quest was simple: Melissa wanted the perfect bottom. In her mind, it resembled a plump, ripe peach, like the emoji. She was already halfway there. In 2018, she’d had a Brazilian butt lift, known as a BBL, a surgical procedure in which fat is removed from various parts of the body and then injected back into the buttocks. Melissa’s bottom was already rounder and fuller than before, and she was delighted by the effect, with how it made her feel and how it made her look. But it could be better. It could always be better.

On a recent afternoon, Melissa visited the British aesthetic surgeon Dr Lucy Glancey for a consultation. Glancey had performed Melissa’s first BBL at her clinic on the Essex-Suffolk borders, a suite of rooms boasting shining white cupboards, a full-length mirror and drawers stuffed with syringes. As she waited for Melissa to arrive, Glancey showed me a picture of Melissa on the beach in Dubai, wearing a palm-print bikini and posing in a kind of provocative crouch – arms, breasts, thighs and buttocks all arranged for optimum effect. “Look how good she looks,” said Glancey, admiring Melissa and her own work. “I said to her, I don’t see what else we can do.”

When Melissa walked into the room, she didn’t exactly resemble her digital self, but then, who does? She’d swapped Dubai-luxe for Suffolk-casual – blue jeans and a pink sweater. After a quick chat, Glancey – dark blue scrubs, coral toenails – asked Melissa to take off her clothes. Together, doctor and patient stood in front of the mirror and stared.

…Like anyone inspecting their own body, Melissa could see things no one else could see. She wasn’t seeing just its current form in the mirror, but multiple versions: her former body, her desired body, her digital body. In her teens, nearly a decade ago, when Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap had its own Twitter account, Melissa had wanted to be thin and flat like everyone else. Then fashions changed. Explaining why she got her first BBL, Melissa, who is white, said she had wanted to fill out a pair of jeans and appeal to the kind of men she liked. “I felt attracted to black men and mixed-race men, and they liked curvier women,” she told me…

…Not everyone can achieve the Kardashian body. As with much of the Kardashian West oeuvre, her bottom has its own attendant controversies, not least because it appears to want to be an idealised version of a black woman’s bottom. Kardashian West, who has Armenian heritage and has always denied having had bottom surgery, has long been accused of “blackfishing” – mimicking and appropriating black culture to enhance her brand. “It’s completely constructed, a kind of fiction,” said Alisha Gaines, professor of English at Florida State University, and the author of Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy. “She’s made an empire on appropriating blackness and selling it to all types of people, including black folks.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Ancient DNA Shows Humans Settled Caribbean in 2 Distinct Waves

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2021-01-05 00:56Z by Steven

Ancient DNA Shows Humans Settled Caribbean in 2 Distinct Waves

The New York Times
2020-12-23

Carl Zimmer


Taíno ceramic vessels from eastern Dominican Republic, circa A.D. 1400. Menno Hoogland/Leiden University

Millions of people living on the islands today inherited genes from the people who made them home before Europeans arrived.

When Dr. Juan Aviles went to school in Puerto Rico, teachers taught him that the original people of the island, the Taino, vanished soon after Spain colonized it. Violence, disease and forced labor wiped them out, destroying their culture and language, the teachers said, and the colonizers repopulated the island with enslaved people, including Indigenous people from Central and South America and Africans.

But at home, Dr. Aviles heard another story. His grandmother would tell him that they were descended from Taino ancestors and that some of the words they used also descended from the Taino language.

“But, you know, my grandmother had to drop out of school at second grade, so I didn’t trust her initially,” said Dr. Aviles, now a physician in Goldsboro, N.C.

Dr. Aviles, who studied genetics in graduate school, has become active in using it to help connect people in the Caribbean with their genealogical history. And recent research in the field has led him to recognize that his grandmother was onto something…

Read the entire article here.

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A genetic history of the pre-contact Caribbean

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2021-01-05 00:44Z by Steven

A genetic history of the pre-contact Caribbean

Nature
2020-12-23
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03053-2

D.M. Fernandes

K.A. Sirak

H. Ringbauer, et al.

Humans settled the Caribbean about 6,000 years ago, and ceramic use and intensified agriculture mark a shift from the Archaic to the Ceramic Age at around 2,500 years ago1,2,3. Here we report genome-wide data from 174 ancient individuals from The Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (collectively, Hispaniola), Puerto Rico, Curaçao and Venezuela, which we co-analysed with 89 previously published ancient individuals. Stone-tool-using Caribbean people, who first entered the Caribbean during the Archaic Age, derive from a deeply divergent population that is closest to Central and northern South American individuals; contrary to previous work4, we find no support for ancestry contributed by a population related to North American individuals. Archaic-related lineages were >98% replaced by a genetically homogeneous ceramic-using population related to speakers of languages in the Arawak family from northeast South America; these people moved through the Lesser Antilles and into the Greater Antilles at least 1,700 years ago, introducing ancestry that is still present. Ancient Caribbean people avoided close kin unions despite limited mate pools that reflect small effective population sizes, which we estimate to be a minimum of 500–1,500 and a maximum of 1,530–8,150 individuals on the combined islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola in the dozens of generations before the individuals who we analysed lived. Census sizes are unlikely to be more than tenfold larger than effective population sizes, so previous pan-Caribbean estimates of hundreds of thousands of people are too large5,6. Confirming a small and interconnected Ceramic Age populatio7, we detect 19 pairs of cross-island cousins, close relatives buried around 75 km apart in Hispaniola and low genetic differentiation across islands. Genetic continuity across transitions in pottery styles reveals that cultural changes during the Ceramic Age were not driven by migration of genetically differentiated groups from the mainland, but instead reflected interactions within an interconnected Caribbean world1,8.

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The Illusion of Inclusion — The “All of Us” Research Program and Indigenous Peoples’ DNA

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2020-09-13 02:16Z by Steven

The Illusion of Inclusion — The “All of Us” Research Program and Indigenous Peoples’ DNA

The New England Journal of Medicine
Issue 383 (2020-07-30)
pages 411-413
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1915987

Keolu Fox, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego

Raw data, including digital sequence information derived from human genomes, have in recent years emerged as a top global commodity. This shift is so new that experts are still evaluating what such information is worth in a global market. In 2018, the direct-to-consumer genetic-testing company 23andMe sold access to its database containing digital sequence information from approximately 5 million people to GlaxoSmithKline for $300 million. Earlier this year, 23andMe partnered with Almirall, a Spanish drug company that is using the information to develop a new antiinflammatory drug for autoimmune disorders. This move marks the first time that 23andMe has signed a deal to license a drug for development.

Eighty-eight percent of people included in large-scale studies of human genetic variation are of European ancestry, as are the majority of participants in clinical trials.1 Corporations such as Geisinger Health System, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe have already mined genomic databases for the strongest genotype–phenotype associations. For the field to advance, a new approach is needed. There are many potential ways to improve existing databases, including “deep phenotyping,” which involves collecting precise measurements from blood panels, questionnaires, cognitive surveys, and other tests administered to research participants. But this approach is costly and physiologically and mentally burdensome for participants. Another approach is to expand existing biobanks by adding genetic information from populations whose genomes have not yet been sequenced — information that may offer opportunities for discovering globally rare but locally common population-specific variants, which could be useful for identifying new potential drug targets.

Many Indigenous populations have been geographically isolated for tens of thousands of years. Over time, these populations have developed adaptations to their environments that have left specific variant signatures in their genomes. As a result, the genomes of Indigenous peoples are a treasure trove of unexplored variation. Some of this variation will inevitably be identified by programs like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “All of Us” research program. NIH leaders have committed to the idea that at least 50% of this program’s participants should be members of underrepresented minority populations, including U.S. Indigenous communities (Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians), a decision that explicitly connects diversity with the program’s goal of promoting equal enjoyment of the future benefits of precision medicine.

But there are reasons to believe that this promise may be an illusion. Previous government-funded, large-scale human genome sequencing efforts, such as the Human Genome Diversity Project, the International HapMap Project, and the 1000 Genomes Project, provide examples of the ways in which open-source data have been commodified in the past. These initiatives, which promised unrestricted, open access to data on population-specific biomarkers, ultimately enabled the generation of nearly a billion dollars’ worth of profits by pharmaceutical and ancestry-testing companies. If the All of Us program uses the same unrestricted data-access and sharing protocols, there will be no built-in mechanisms to protect against the commodification of Indigenous peoples’ DNA…

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Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 03:03Z by Steven

Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

The New York Times
2020-07-23

Christine Kenneally


An 1823 cross-section diagram of a ship used to carry enslaved people. incamerastock/Alamy

Scientists from the consumer genetics company 23andMe have published the largest DNA study to date of people with African ancestry in the Americas.

More than one and a half centuries after the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended, a new study shows how the brutal treatment of enslaved people has shaped the DNA of their descendants.

The report, which included more than 50,000 people, 30,000 of them with African ancestry, agrees with the historical record about where people were taken from in Africa, and where they were enslaved in the Americas. But it also found some surprises.

For example, the DNA of participants from the United States showed a significant amount of Nigerian ancestry — an unexpected finding, as the historical record does not show evidence of enslaved people taken directly to the United States from Nigeria.

At first, historians working with the researchers “couldn’t believe the amount of Nigerian ancestry in the U.S.,” said Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe who led the study…

…The 23andMe project found this general pattern, but also uncovered a startling difference in the experience of men and women between regions in the Americas.

The scientists calculated that enslaved women in the United States contributed 1.5 times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than enslaved men. In the Latin Caribbean, they contributed 13 times more. In Northern South America, they contributed 17 times more.

What’s more, in the United States, European men contributed three times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than European women did. In the British Caribbean, they contributed 25 times more…

Read the entire article here.

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Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 02:41Z by Steven

Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas

The American Journal of Human Genetics
Published: 2020-07-23
37 pages
DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.06.012

Steven J. Micheletti
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Kasia Bryc
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Samantha G. Ancona Esselmann
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

William A. Freyman
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Meghan E. Moreno
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

G. David Poznik
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Anjali J. Shastri
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

23andMe Research Team
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California

Sandra Beleza
University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom

Joanna L. Mountain
23andMe, Inc., Sunnyvale, California


GettyImages

According to historical records of transatlantic slavery, traders forcibly deported an estimated 12.5 million people from ports along the Atlantic coastline of Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries, with global impacts reaching to the present day, more than a century and a half after slavery’s abolition. Such records have fueled a broad understanding of the forced migration from Africa to the Americas yet remain underexplored in concert with genetic data. Here, we analyzed genotype array data from 50,281 research participants, which—combined with historical shipping documents—illustrate that the current genetic landscape of the Americas is largely concordant with expectations derived from documentation of slave voyages. For instance, genetic connections between people in slave trading regions of Africa and disembarkation regions of the Americas generally mirror the proportion of individuals forcibly moved between those regions. While some discordances can be explained by additional records of deportations within the Americas, other discordances yield insights into variable survival rates and timing of arrival of enslaved people from specific regions of Africa. Furthermore, the greater contribution of African women to the gene pool compared to African men varies across the Americas, consistent with literature documenting regional differences in slavery practices. This investigation of the transatlantic slave trade, which is broad in scope in terms of both datasets and analyses, establishes genetic links between individuals in the Americas and populations across Atlantic Africa, yielding a more comprehensive understanding of the African roots of peoples of the Americas.


Figure 1 Location of Individuals and Cohorts
Arrows highlight the general direction of the triangular trade routes between continents during the transatlantic slave trade. Pie charts indicate the documented number of enslaved people embarking out of regions of Africa (∼12.5 million total) and disembarking in regions of the Americas (∼10.5 million total) between 1515 and 1865. Representatives of regions of the Americas and Europe indicated that they each have four grandparents born within the same country or US state. Representatives of Atlantic Africa either indicated four grandparents born within or historical ties to a country. Points indicate the ∼16,000 unique grandparental geo-coordinates provided by participants. ∗Cape Verde is an Atlantic African island country that, in the 15th century, was colonized by the Portuguese and inhabited primarily by enslaved people from Senegambia.

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Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2020-06-26 01:10Z by Steven

Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

The Abusable Past
Radical History Review
2020-06-22

R. Sánchez-Rivera
Department of Sociology
University of Cambridge


Pablo Delano, A Group of newly made Americans at Ponce, Porto Rico, (detail from the conceptual art installation The Museum of the Old Colony, 2016-ongoing). Source: Stereocard published by M. H. Zahner, Niagara Falls, New York, 1898. Photographer not identified.

Recently, a published, peer-reviewed article caused a great deal of controversy when it circulated among many academic Facebook pages such as Latinx Scholars, Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)-Puerto Rico Section. This article, “Economic Development in Puerto Rico after US Annexation: Anthropometric Evidence,” written by Brian Marein, a PhD student in economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, brings together data to show that the average height of men in Puerto Rico increased by 4.2cm after the U.S. “annexation” (a euphemism for colonization). The author uses anthropometrics to argue that U.S. colonialism was actually beneficial to Puerto Ricans “in contrast to the prevailing view in the literature.” His main conclusion is that because U.S. officials brought in resources, food, and education, the life of Puerto Ricans improved (inferred by the increased height of men) as a result of colonization.

Anthropometrics refers to the measuring of people’s bodies and skeletons to correlate their difference to “racial” and psychological traits that privileged Eurocentric ideas of beauty, intelligence, ableness, morality, among others. This stems from a long history of “race science” that surged from the polygenetic assumption that (1) “race” was a biological type and (2) “races” had distinct origins. Two major theories of human origins and heredity dominated during the nineteenth century: monogenism and polygenism. Thinkers who advocated for monogenism argued that all humans came from the same origin but were in different developmental stages (usually with Whites at the top and Black people at the bottom). However, during the second half of the nineteenth century polygenism, or the notion that the “races” had separate origins and should be considered as distinct and immutable species, became more widely accepted…

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How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2020-06-23 17:55Z by Steven

How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2020-06-16

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University


Illustration by Tomi Um

I am an American woman, of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and I strive to live my life as an active agent against racism and white supremacy. I am beginning to consider having children and am open to bearing a child as a single mother. It is possible to sort through sperm donors by race, eye color, education level and so on. If I choose a donor of color, am I condemning my child to be born into a system designed not to serve them? Or can I use my white privilege to help them fight that system? Would my future child of color feel separated from their heritage with me as their mother? If I choose a white donor, am I succumbing to racist ideas of what traits are “desirable,” or taking the “easy road” in knowing my child will look more like me? What do you think? Name Withheld

Women have been making choices about their children’s possible appearance and identity from the beginning of human history. Long before genetics, people knew that parental characteristics show up in their offspring. With modern technologies, the prospects for trying to fix your child’s heritable characteristics are expanding, raising plenty of ethical issues. Race, however, is not a biological fact but a social fact — a social fact that, for example, Americans who are known to have African ancestry are regarded as African-American. What’s more, having an African-American donor doesn’t tell you what your child’s skin or hair will look like. You can be socially black without looking black, like Walter White, the longtime head of the N.A.A.C.P.

I’m spelling all this out because your question about having a child with a sperm donor of color presupposes that it will produce a child who won’t look “white,” and that’s not necessarily the case. Suppose you have a white-looking son with an African-American sperm donor. Then you and your child will have a choice to make about whether he or she should identify as African-American. Some people think that failing to do so — “passing for white” — is somehow dishonest. Yet to hold that you must identify as black in those circumstances would be to accede to a longstanding American notion (“the one-drop rule”) that one black ancestor makes you black. You could reasonably reject that notion, which is rooted in the history of slavery and the nonsensical racial theories that grew up with it…

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HALF MEASURES: California’s Journey Toward Counting Multiracial People By 2022

Posted in Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Reports, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2020-04-29 00:02Z by Steven

HALF MEASURES: California’s Journey Toward Counting Multiracial People By 2022

Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC)
2020
30 pages

Thomas Lopez, Editor
Sarah Gowing, Lead Researcher

Reviewers:

G. Reginal Daniel, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Kelly F. Jackson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work
Arizona State University

Racial and ethnic data is collected by the government to enable the enforcement of civil rights laws, ensure equitable distribution of resources, and measure inequality. In 2016, the State of California released new policy standards for the collection and public reporting of racial/ethnic demographic data. All State agencies, boards, and commissions that collect this data must comply by January 1, 2022, allowing respondents to select multiple racial/ethnic categories. They must also disseminate this information in such a way as to not obscure mixed-race individuals. Potentially the most significant change to the standards would be the counting of people with mixed Latina/o and non-Latina/o identity. California will be the first state in the nation to do this.

This study’s aim is to determine whether these agencies are in compliance or whether there are still changes to be made. After reviewing organizations and aims from four sectors (education, business, health, and criminal justice), it was found that only one system is in compliance with the data collection, and none have followed the standards for race/ethnic data presentation. The counting of mixed Latina/o identified people is the most conspicuous gap in both the data collection and reporting methods. With less than two years to make the required changes, agencies must ensure that they are beginning the process now due to the time and resources required.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • About MASC
  • Terminology
  • Introduction
  • Current vs. Future Standards
    • Future Data Collection Compliance
    • Future Data Presentation Compliance
  • Methodology
  • Results
    • Data Collection
    • Data Presentation
  • Discussion & Recommendations
  • About the Authors
  • Works Cited
  • Appendix A: Assembly Bill 532
  • Appendix B: Supporting Data

Read the entire report here.

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