Dr. Ian Logan is a retired physician. He is well known in the genetic genealogy community for his work on mtDNA. His website includes background information on mtDNA, instructions for donating your own results to Genbank, and most recently information on the Zika virus.
Answer: I am a 69-year-old retired physician. I was born in West Ham (part of East London). But in the 1960’s my father worked for The World Health Organisation, and I lived in Geneva for a few years.
Then I went to Sheffield University and studied medicine. In the 1970’s I was a GP, as it is called in England – what I think you would call a Family Physician.
However, I stopped doing that work; and in the early 80’s wrote a few books about the new Sinclair home Computers, and actually worked for the company on a few projects. But the good life did not last, and as the company’s fortunes changed I went back to work as a doctor – now as a civil servant. I carried on with this until I retired in 2006.
Question: What are your other hobbies and interests apart from genealogy?
Answer: I live with my wife, by the sea, in the Southwest of England. And I play Go – which I enjoy but play rather badly. My wife is in Amateur Dramatics – so we often go to the theatre.
Question: What brought you to genealogy? What is your favorite part?
Answer: My wife has an interesting surname – Brooking – and was a member of her Family History Society before we met – so I must say that she introduced me to Genealogy.
I continue to be a committee member of ‘The Brooking Society’ and look after the records and the website. See: www.brookingsociety.org.uk
In comparison to my wife’s very special family, my own family is unexciting!
We started back in the early 2000’s looking at Y-DNA markers; and quickly found the ‘Brooking’ family does not have any outside matches! So although Y-DNA testing has moved on, we have not learned much for some years now.
However, I also started to look at mtDNA – and over the years I have concentrated on this. There used to be only 1,000 sequences on GenBank – but now there are over 30,000. And the phylogenetic tree once fit on a single page, but now perhaps needs a 1,000 pages.
The mtDNA is only important in about 1 person in 500 – but Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy has been a particular interest on mine – perhaps as I had a patient with it back in the 1970’s, and now have some friends who also carry a LHON mutation.
Question: Did your research on NUMTs come from your interest in mtDNA?
Answer: Yes, I have looked at NUMTs because they are preserved copies of the mtDNA
from millions of years ago. Did you ever look at this paper?
Question: The need for consumer genetic testing standards has been a topic for years now. To what extent do you think government regulation is needed? Do you feel that the responsibility for consumer education lies with the testing companies, the citizen science community, or the consumer?
Answer: Not really interested in this. It seems much more of a problem in the US. In the UK the companies have never quite made a success of their testing – and this means government has not been involved.
Question: What DNA tests have you taken?
Answer: I have had my mtDNA tested (by Argus as they had a low initial offer price – before they stopped trying to compete against FTDNA). And a 23andMe test.
Have you tested your family? Have your or your family’s test results ever been a surprise?
No. Nobody else in my family has been tested. But my wife’s brother – a ‘Brooking’ was tested (for Y-chromosome markers) by FTDNA – and was pleased to see he had ‘Brooking’ results.
Question: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?
Answer: I have never really had much success with my own family, but I have found (through the 23andMe test) that my grandfather’s grandfather was one of the people rescued from the Barque ‘India’ in 1841. See the attached photo – the original is in a museum in Melbourne.
But I am descended from a daughter who had stayed behind in Scotland.
Question: Do you have advice for someone starting out in genealogy or genetic genealogy DNA?
Answer: Just keep asking questions – there are no secrets. But most of all, everything depends on having the luck to be from a ‘genealogically good’ family. In some case family records are poor – and there is little of real interest to be found (such as in my own family). Whilst another family can give years and years of interest – such as with the ‘Brooking’ family.
Question: What do you think the future holds for genetic genealogy testing?
Answer: This is a bit tricky…
We are already seeing a slowing of interest generally in genealogy; and the costs of genetic testing are still very high.
So I think everything is going to be rather steady for the next few years – which is a bit of a shame after the exciting years of the last decade.
However, I am now using the skills obtained from ‘genetic genealogy’ to looking at the Zika virus. (I have had a paper in ‘Zoological Research’).
And maybe ‘genetic genealogy’ will become prominent again, but in a slightly different field.
Many people want to know what risks they have inherited, but as 23andMe has shown – the present tests show nothing in the majority of people. And if something does show up it is likely the person knew about it anyway.
And it will take quite some years for the science to catch up and explain what underlies many of the common medical conditions.
Just at present – why we are susceptible to virus infections, such as Zika, seems to be extremely important.