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Exploring Genetics: The 23andMe DNA Project

Thank you 23andMe for sponsoring this post. For more information about this leading health and ancestry DNA service, please visit 23andMe.


Genetics has always fascinated me – it was the subject I was most serious about studying in college as a high school student, and I even scored a sweet job in a genetics lab as a college freshman. An interest in genetics was the one thing Mike and I had in common when we met! We both ultimately decided to study other subjects, but the subject of human genetics continues to fascinated me (as well as Mike) – so of course I jumped at the chance to try out 23andMe’s DNA testing kit.

Named the Times magazine “Invention of the Year” in 2008, 23andMe is the world’s largest DNA-based ancestry service; it also provides over 240 health reports. 23andMe originally cost over $1000; this price has since been lowered to a more-affordable $99.

Saliva Collection Kit Single

When you pay for the service, you get a saliva collection kit, which you then mail back. After a few weeks, you get an email with your results. You have the chance to connect with relatives who have also completed the kit, and explore your risk for various health problems. I opted out of meeting relatives online, but found all of the health information interesting. I was a little frustrated that, as a woman, this kit can only trace my maternal line. Both maternal and paternal lines can be traced from male samples, and I would love for 23andMe to eventually work out a way to trace both lines for women as well as men.

Have you ever done any genetic testing? Would you be interested in trying a kit like this? Why or why not?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

16 thoughts on “Exploring Genetics: The 23andMe DNA Project”

  1. I love that your common interest in genetics is one of the things that started your friendship with Mike!!

    This sort of testing has never crossed my mind previously. Maybe because my and my husband’s bloodlines are VERY mixed! :)

    1. I thought the medical results were very interesting – although I also think it is very important to look at them from a statistical point of view, so as to prevent misinterpretation of the results.

  2. how interesting! genetics is fun… looking at recessive and dominant traits is my fave. i didn’t know they had kits like this available to the public.

  3. In our community every girl and boy gets genetic testing in high school. Their results then go into a large bank and they are given a number.Since our dating is very marriage focused, when a couple is dating they call up and anonymously give their numbers

    They are then told if they are compatible. This has greatly lessened the genetic diseases that were happening as a result of Jewish couples marrying without knowing if they will likely have kids with genetic diseases.

  4. We actually were advised to consider testing for the boys because it wasn’t clear from any tests so far if they’re identical or fraternal twins. I’ve thought about it from time to time, but haven’t followed through. Mainly because of costs.

  5. I am so interested in this – I’ve often thought about trying it but I was interested to read that women can only trace their maternal line. I have more information on my maternal line than on my paternal line so that side is more interesting to me.

  6. Very interesting. Sometimes I am tempted with this kind of things, but ultimately I think this knowledge can lead to unnecessary anxiety. I suspect that these tests will be rather commonplace by the time our children are ready for marriage and having children of their own – that’s when they can come back to us and complain about the genes we’ve passed :)

    1. I think it’s definitely important to put the information in context – at the end of the day it’s just a probability. I find having a personal history of a serious health problem makes it easier to look at other potential risks, but that might not be the case for everyone. You do have the option of not looking at any of the medical information, and for more serious conditions there is a brief counseling page before you click through to results.

  7. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this, and it sounds like it’s even more in-depth than I thought. Thanks for sharing your experience, MaryAnne!

  8. I would want to know about genetic risk factors. My son and I participate in a DNA test because we both have amblyopia. I remember having trouble producing enough saliva for the sample. Genetics are fascinating!

  9. I love reading and learning about ancestral and evolutionary DNA. Genealogy is my no blogging (actually I do have a genealogy blog) hobby. But it makes sense to me that you can’t do a woman’s paternal ancestry because it’s done through the Y chromosome. But I’m sure you already know that. I suppose with all the new science we discover every day soon there will be a way. Also… so happy your blog is back!

    1. Yes, it definitely makes sense that you can’t trace the paternal ancestry; I just wish it weren’t the case. Maybe someday we’ll find a way around it :)

      That’s cool that you also have a genealogy blog!

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