The cooperation of 23andMe and MyHeritage to combine their databases for the benefit of their users opens a world of possibilities.
As I work year after year researching my family’s ancestry, it becomes apparent that genealogy researchers are becoming more protective of their information. As a result, access to information is more exclusive and expensive. Despite this, the use of online genealogy resources and databases has grown exponentially.
A surprising benefit of the commercial aspect of genealogy information is the increase in sites offering genealogy data, whether paid or free. Rather than competing against each other, free and paid sites have been cooperating – cross referencing each other’s resources and data, as with Ancestry.com bringing up and linking to free sites such as Library and Archives Canada, BillionGraves.com and FindaGrave.com, to name just a few.
Now, 23andMe, the DNA and genetics company, will be combining its own DNA ancestry database with the family tree database of MyHeritage.
Provide a saliva sample, and 23andMe will discover the geographic origins of ancestors and help connect people to unknown relatives. MyHeritage’s library of over 5.5 billion records, and their technology for automating ancestry research will enable the mapping of ancestral connections via historical records and family trees.
According to MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet, “DNA testing can connect you to relatives you never knew existed, who descend from shared ancestors centuries ago, but family trees and historical records are critical to map and fully understand these connections.”
The cooperation of the two companies will enable 23andMe to offer its 750,000 customers access to MyHeritage’s tools and data, and in return, MyHeritage will use 23andMe’s data, allowing the matching of DNA to explore family trees and connections.
23andMe’s Personal Genome Service and DNA tests will both be offered to MyHeritage’s 70 million registered users.
The integration of the two will occur gradually and is expected to be complete by early 2015.