GPS Origins Review - UPDATED Nov 2017
GPS Origins is a state-of-the-art ancestry DNA test developed by DDC (DNA Diagnostic Center). Contrary to popular belief, GPS doesn’t stand for global positioning system, but for “Geographic Population Structure.” The main “edge” of this test, compared to the competition, is its ability to provide a more precise picture of your genetic origins, pinpointing even to the exact states.
DDC is a DNA testing center, well-known for its hi-tech approach to genetic sequencing, incorporating robotics technology, among other modern scientific marvels. It was founded in 1995, following the idea that genetic science breakthroughs should be translated to widely available services.
Their ancestry DNA test was created by Dr. Eran Elhaik, the multidisciplinary team leader at the University of Sheffield. Apart from his Ph.D. in the field and two post-doctoral research fellowships, Dr. Elhaik was also appointed as a research associate at the John Hopkins School of Public Health.
How GPS Origins Works
As we mentioned before in this GPS Origins review, GPS Origins is envisioned as a widely available, commercial ancestry DNA test. As such, it follows the traditional recipe for the DTC (direct-to-customer) testing approach, including the following steps:
- Online order – To place an order with DDC ancestry service, you should first register and create your personal account on their website. After that, you’ll be able to place an order for your DNA testing kit. Note that you can fill out a questionnaire during the registration process, which will help the company refine your final results.
- Sample collection – Once your kit has arrived, you can collect your DNA specimen by performing a buccal swab.
- Mailing the specimen back – The kit also contains a pre-paid envelope, in which you should insert your collected sample. Once you’ve done that, simply drop it into the mailbox.
- Inspecting the results – In 4-6 weeks, your report should be ready. You can inspect your results online, through your personal account.
The DNA test kit you’ll receive upon order will contain:
- Order form
- Comprehensive instructional manual
- 4 buccal swabs
- Sample storage envelope
- Pre-paid return envelope
Why Choose GPS Origins
Between DDC and their ancestry-testing product, we have a multitude of factors that will definitely have you looking their way.
Some of the strongest ones include:
- The most specific ancestry DNA test with a detailed geographic report
- 800,000 genetic markers checked
- 36 regions of the world covered
- 862 reference populations taken into account
- The test traces your genetic origins over 1000 years in the past
- Proprietary, hi-tech testing lab with robotics technology performing DNA sequencing
- Numerous certificates and accreditations
- The University of Sheffield stands behind GPS Origins, with the renowned scientist Dr. Eran Elhaik as its creator
- DDC has over two decades of active participation in the field
- Dr. Michael Baird, the world’s leading DNA expert, is the Chief Science Officer of DDC
- Accurate test results, based on the original algorithm published in a peer-review publication (Nature Communications Journal)
- Affordable pricing
- 10$ discount for using a specific promo code
- Strict confidentiality policy
- Transferable raw data from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA
- Knowledgeable and competent user support
- Possibility of refunds
With all these benefits enumerated, we also have a negative remark to point out. Namely, DDC doesn’t offer the service of downloading your raw data, which means you won’t be able to compare your results against many of the databases currently on the market.
Admittedly, they do offer results transfer from the three companies already mentioned, but that still doesn’t quite take away the feeling of being constricted to just a handful of data sources. DDC announced some time ago that they’ll incorporate this feature into their offer, but that still hasn’t happened.
GPS Origins enables you to trace your specific DNA strain back to the place where it began. Your genetic ancestry is traced to 1000 years in the past. In some cases, the results will be able to pinpoint an exact town or village where your DNA originated.
GPS Origins utilizes 36 global gene pools in order to calculate the unique signature of your autosomal DNA. Then, it compares that signature to populations around the world in order to locate the origin point of your DNA. Lastly, it calculates 2 genetic lineages by tracing your DNA’s migration patterns.
Gene pools (or Ancestral Origins) are collective sets of genetic data within specific regions where populations inhabiting it had limited contact with different populations outside that distinct group for around 20,000 or 60,000 years. Today, we are aware of 36 human gene pools and GPS Origins examines them all. All human genetic populations are made up of a different mixture of these gene pools.
Reference populations (or Study Bases) are representative samples of certain individuals during a specific time span. GPS Origins utilizes 862 reference populations, which, combined with 36 gene pools, provides the famous accuracy of this test.
With that explained, we can delve deeper into the specific inner-works of the test. Namely, it explores the unique composition of your genetic signature, comparing it to a database containing more than 10,000 signatures, spread across the already mentioned reference populations. Genetic mixing in the past usually occurred only when larger groups of people migrated from place to place, which was a relatively rare occurrence. That means that scientists are able to extract pretty clean reference points of DNA compositions found in different locations of the world.
The algorithm used by GPS Origins presumes that your DNA shares a lot of common points with the genetic material it originated from, but it still considers it unique to you. It calculates the genetic “distance” between your current and ancestral DNA strain and converts it into geographic distance. Then it uses those geographic points as GPS locations, triangulating the place where your DNA originated.
The test report includes the following points:
- Specific ethnic data, extracted from 36 possible gene pools, covering the whole world
- Geographic origin location of your unique DNA chain
- The migration pattern of your DNA more than 1000 years back. The migration map follows both your maternal and paternal genetic journey through time
- The temporal point when your DNA underwent its final major alteration on a population level
- Summary Page with assorted links to help your potential external genetic research
The price of the test is 189$ (lowered from 199$), which is higher than some competing products, but no other test offers the same level of specificity. If you want to transfer data from one of the compatible autosomal ancestry DNA tests and have GPS Origins perform a double scan, the price for this procedure is 74$ (lowered from 79$).
The creator of GPS Origins is a research associate with John Hopkins School of Public Health. His research efforts are focused on answering the most important biological questions, drawing from statistical and computational skills, alongside mathematics and epidemiology.
Major breakthroughs in his research include designing the 2 microarrays dedicated to genetic genealogy. In 2014, he dated the origination of the “Adam” chromosome, the most ancient Y-chromosome, to 208,500 years ago. In the same year, he also laid the groundwork for what’s to become GPS Origins. He and his team used the original algorithm to discover the ancient Ashkenazi in Northeastern Turkey.
Privacy And Security
DDC is a very reputable company and it takes your privacy and data security very seriously. With that in mind, here’s what they promise in regards to this matter:
- DDC will not release your information or share it with anybody without your initiative or explicit permission.
- They will always follow your specific instructions (if any), concerning information transfer with you or other parties.
- They will never release any kind of personal information over the phone.
- DDC incorporates all the industry standard safety measures to keep your personal profile and data transfers as secure as possible.
Shipping And Handling
GPS Origins DNA testing kit can only be delivered within the US and Canada. They don’t mention anything about shipping options or timetables once they receive your order.