By GLORIA CAMPOS / WFAA-TV?
Everyone knows about DNA. DNA tests help determine paternity and, of course, TV crime shows couldn't crack a case without it.
But now thousands of Americans are using DNA in a whole new way?to trace their genealogy.
Every one of us walks around carrying a living blueprint of our ancestry. It's called DNA, making us all unique, yet tied to the same family of homo sapiens.
Art Garza, 61, of Richardson hopes science will help him solve a mystery that begins with his dad, Antonio Garza.
"I've been trying to trace my ancestors for about five years, and I have not come close," he said. "My Dad was born in Mexico, he does not know where or when."
Working with a Hispanic genealogy group called Hogar de Dallas, Garza tried finding his family roots the traditional way, through a paper trail of birth certificates, church and marriage records.
That search proved fruitless, so he took a DNA test.
"It's easier to do it the DNA way and then go back and do the research," Garza said.
It is easy to do a DNA test; no blood is required.
All you do is swab the inside of your cheek, drop it in a little tube and put it in the mail. You usually get the results in four to six weeks.
Bennett Greenspan of Houston started Family Tree DNA six years ago, when he ran into a roadblock researching his own genealogy. Now, his company runs 2-3,000 DNA tests a month.
"Genealogists all over the country?and, in fact, all over the world?are now setting up surname DNA projects to prove or disprove they are related to each other," Greenspan said.
Dr. Gail Tomlinson, a geneticist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, studies DNA trying to determine who is at risk of cancer. "Machines read the entire genetic code, line it up, and compare it to individuals," she explained.?
Besides getting a genetic blueprint that determines ethnicity, Family Tree DNA provides a list of people you match up with and their e-mail addresses, so you can contact your new relatives.
Depending on what test you take?male or female?and how much detail you require, it costs from $100 to $300.
"I'm feeling good and I'm hoping I can find something very soon that I can go ahead and finally track down where my parents came from and my Dad besides," Garza said.
While researching this story, I discovered that Art Garza and I have a common male ancestor, so we are somehow distantly related.
Now we'll have to get busy to find that common ancestor
to read the story.