Study: Let’s Replace ‘Ancestry’ in Forensics With Something More Accurate

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2021-07-15 18:52Z by Steven

Study: Let’s Replace ‘Ancestry’ in Forensics With Something More Accurate

North Carolina State University News
Raleigh, North Carolina
2021-07-14

Matt Shipman, Research Communications Lead

A new study finds forensics researchers use terms related to ancestry and race in inconsistent ways, and calls for the discipline to adopt a new approach to better account for both the fluidity of populations and how historical events have shaped our skeletal characteristics.

Forensic anthropology is a science, and we need to use terms consistently,” says Ann Ross, corresponding author of the study and a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University. “Our study both highlights our discipline’s challenges in discussing issues of ancestral origin consistently, and suggests that focusing on population affinity would be a way forward.”

Race is a social construct – there’s no scientific basis for it. Population affinity, in the context of forensic anthropology, is determined by the skeletal characteristics associated with groups of people. Those characteristics are shaped by historic events and forces such as gene flow, migration, and so on. What’s more, these population groups can be very fluid…

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Ancestry Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Back on the Frontier of Racism

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2021-07-15 16:36Z by Steven

Ancestry Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Back on the Frontier of Racism

Biology
Volume 10, Issue 7 (2021)
pages 602-613
Published: 2021-06-29
DOI: 10.3390/biology10070602

Ann H. Ross, Professor
Department of Biological Sciences,
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Shanna E. Williams, Clinical Associate Professor
University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, Greenville


Figure 1
Anatomical landmark location and associated landmark number from Table 1.

Simple Summary

Within the practice of forensic anthropology ancestry is oftentimes used as a proxy for social race. This concept and its implications were explored via a content analysis (2009–2019) of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Our findings revealed antiquated views of race based on the trifecta of continental populations (Asia, Europe, and Africa) continue to be pervasive in the field despite scientific invalidation of the concept of race decades earlier. Moreover, our employment of modern geometric morphometric and spatial analysis methods on craniofacial coordinate anatomical landmarks from several Latin American samples produced results in which the groups were not patterned by ancestry trifecta. Based on our findings we propose replacing the assumption of continental ancestry with a population structure approach that combines microevolutionary and cultural factors with historical events in the examination of population affinity.

Abstract

One of the parameters forensic anthropologists have traditionally estimated is ancestry, which is used in the United States as a proxy for social race. Its use is controversial because the biological race concept was debunked by scientists decades ago. However, many forensic anthropologists contend, in part, that because social race categories used by law enforcement can be predicted by cranial variation, ancestry remains a necessary parameter for estimation. Here, we use content analysis of the Journal of Forensic Sciences for the period 2009–2019 to demonstrate the use of various nomenclature and resultant confusion in ancestry estimation studies, and as a mechanism to discuss how forensic anthropologists have eschewed a human variation approach to studying human morphological differences in favor of a simplistic and debunked typological one. Further, we employ modern geometric morphometric and spatial analysis methods on craniofacial coordinate anatomical landmarks from several Latin American samples to test the validity of applying the antiquated tri-continental approach to ancestry (i.e., African, Asian, European). Our results indicate groups are not patterned by the ancestry trifecta. These findings illustrate the benefit and necessity of embracing studies that employ population structure models to better understand human variation and the historical factors that have influenced it.

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Genetic ancestry test results shape race self-identification, Stanford researchers find

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2021-05-25 01:49Z by Steven

Genetic ancestry test results shape race self-identification, Stanford researchers find

Stanford News
Stanford University, Stanford, California
2021-05-17

Sandra Feder, Public Relations Communications Officer


A new Stanford study examines how genetic information learned from ancestry tests changes how people self-identify their race on surveys and the implications this may have for how racial discrimination is monitored. (Image credit: Getty Images)

People who have taken a genetic ancestry test are more likely to report multiple races when self-identifying on surveys, according to Stanford sociologists.

A genetic ancestry test (GAT) can not only unearth deep family secrets, it also can change how people self-identify their race on surveys. A new study by Stanford sociologists delves into how such changes could affect data that demographers use to measure population shifts and monitor racial inequalities.

Aliya Saperstein, associate professor of sociology, and sociology doctoral candidate Sasha Shen Johfre explored how people who have taken a GAT use their newfound ancestry information to answer questions about race on demographic surveys. In a paper recently published online in the journal Demography, the researchers found that GAT takers were significantly overrepresented among people who self-identified with multiple races.

“Theoretically, race and ancestry are distinct constructs,” said lead author Johfre. “Race is more than just family history; it is a reflection of how society interprets a person’s ancestry.”…

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Measuring Race and Ancestry in the Age of Genetic Testing

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2021-05-24 21:27Z by Steven

Measuring Race and Ancestry in the Age of Genetic Testing

Demography
2021-04-12
26 pages
DOI: 10.1215/00703370-9142013

Sasha Shen Johfre, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology
Stanford University, Stanford, California

Aliya Saperstein, Associate Professor of Sociology; Benjamin Scott Crocker Professor in Human Biology
Stanford University, Stanford, California

Jill A. Hollenbach, Associate Professor of Neurology
Weill Institute for Neurosciences
University of California, San Francisco, California

Will the rise of genetic ancestry tests (GATs) change how Americans respond to questions about race and ancestry on censuses and surveys? To provide an answer, we draw on a unique study of more than 100,000 U.S. adults that inquired about respondents’ race, ancestry, and genealogical knowledge. We find that people in our sample who have taken a GAT, compared with those who have not, are more likely to self-identify as multiracial and are particularly likely to select three or more races. This difference in multiple-race reporting stems from three factors: (1) people who identify as multiracial are more likely to take GATs; (2) GAT takers are more likely to report multiple regions of ancestral origin; and (3) GAT takers more frequently translate reported ancestral diversity into multiracial self-identification. Our results imply that Americans will select three or more races at higher rates in future demographic data collection, with marked increases in multiple-race reporting among middle-aged adults. We also present experimental evidence that asking questions about ancestry before racial identification moderates some of these GAT-linked reporting differences. Demographers should consider how the meaning of U.S. race data may be changing as more Americans are exposed to information from GATs.

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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.”…

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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…

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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…

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