Bennett Greenspan

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Bennett Greenspan
Bennett Greenspan - CEO FTDNA & Managing Partner Gene by Gene.jpg
Born1952 (age 70–71)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Texas
Occupation(s)Managing partner of Gene by Gene, president and CEO of Family Tree DNA
Known forFounder of Family Tree DNA

Bennett C. Greenspan (born 1952) is an American businessman. His business ventures have covered industries from real estate to the .com boom. Though he has mainly worked in the fields of photography and genetic testing,[2][3][4] he is best known for his pioneering work in genetic genealogy.[5][6][7][8][9]

Greenspan founded Family Tree DNA which was the first American company to offer genealogical DNA testing directly to the general public.[10][11][12] He is currently the president and chief executive officer (CEO)[13][14][15] and also the managing partner of Family Tree DNA's parent company Gene by Gene.[16]

Greenspan is also the project administrator of several surname DNA projects,[17] and regularly lectures on the use of genetics in genealogy and on genomics.[4][18][19]

Personal life[edit]

A Jewish American, Greenspan was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Maurice and Rosalie Greenspan.[1][20][21] He and his brother were raised there.[20][22] As a young child, Greenspan had a love of family history and would interview the oldest members of his family during gatherings. He drew his first family tree when he was 11 or 12.[3][21]

Nancy Summer and Bennett Greenspan qualified as quarter finalists in the South High Novice Debate Tournament in October. Both divisions attended the OU Debate Tournament in November.

Tournaments Spell Success As Debaters Earn Honors – The Shield 1968[23]

Greenspan attended Westside High School and was part of the graduating class of 1970.[24] In high school, he was involved with the debate team. There, he gained valuable speaking skills.[23] Outside school, he was part of the Omaha Chaim Weizmann AZA chapter, a Jewish youth group. As part of that group, he originated the idea for brightly colored Civil Rights Movement seals in 1969. These were marketed both locally, and in The National Jewish Monthly, to raise funds for the group, as well as human rights awareness.[25]

Upon graduation, Greenspan moved south to Texas, and studied political science at the University of Texas. He graduated with a BA.[4][26] After graduating, he took additional courses in business and entrepreneurship at SMU in Dallas between 1975 and 1976. He did not, however, complete the program.[26]

After college, business interests took Greenspan away from Texas. However, he returned in 1980 and has since remained there. While he married his wife near family in Los Angeles County, California,[27][28] their two children were born and raised in Texas.[20][29][30]

Early business ventures[edit]

Greenspan's first two businesses involved photographic supplies.[4] The second of these was Industrial Photographic Supply. Based in Texas, from 1980 to 1996, it sold industrial grade goods to advertising agencies, art studios, newspapers, and printing companies. In its first four years, its profit grew by over 600 percent.[31][32] This company was sold to Bell Industries, Inc in 1996. Greenspan remained as an employee of the new owners for roughly a year.[3][9][10]

In 1997, Greenspan founded with Max Blankfeld. is an online college-search website. While there, he was the chief executive officer.[2][26][33]

Family Tree DNA[edit]

We all have a storybook within ourselves. The real challenge is figuring out how to read it. We really don't know where this is going but I’m convinced because of the scientific teams we work with, that wherever this leads, we will be at the forefront of the next cutting-edge revolution.

Bennett Greenspan quoted in April 2006[34]

After leaving, Greenspan became semi-retired and returned to working on his family history. In 1999, he began work on his mother's Nitz lineage.[3][10][21] When faced with an unsurmountable obstacle using standard genealogical methods in his work, he remembered two cases of genetics being used to prove ancestry that had recently been covered by the media. One was a study by University of Arizona researchers showing that many Cohen men from both Ashkenazic and Sephardic groups share the same Y-Chromosome pattern of markers, the Cohen Modal Haplotype.[35] The other was a DNA study showing that male descendants of US President Thomas Jefferson with the Jefferson surname, and male descendants of his freed slave Sally Hemings, shared the same Y-Chromosome markers and a recent common ancestry.[36]

Greenspan had Nitz cousins in California, and he had discovered someone in Argentina with the same ancestral surname and the same ancestral location in Eastern Europe. Wishing to use the same method of DNA comparison for his own genealogy, he contacted Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona. Their conversation inspired Greenspan to start a company dedicated to using genetics to solve genealogy problems, Family Tree DNA.[3][9][11][22][34]

As personal genetic ancestry and genealogy industries grew,[5][6] and so did Family Tree DNA.[7][26] In 2004, Greenspan and Blankfeld hosted the first conference for advocates in the field.[3] However, the industry faced ethics and infrastructure challenges.[3][8][14][12]

Gene by Gene[edit]

We believe the first step to unearthing your personal and family history is to better understand your DNA. That's why we are continuously investing in new technology and experienced scientists at our Genomics Research Center, enabling us to conduct tests more accurately and efficiently.

Bennett Greenspan quoted in April 2013[18]

Though Family Tree DNA originally partnered with the University of Arizona for testing,[3][17] Greenspan, and his now longtime business partner Max Blankfeld, eventually started their own testing laboratory in Houston, Texas under the Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd. parent company.[26] This is the Genomics Research Center (GRC) laboratory in Houston, Texas.[37][38] With the opening of the GRC, Greenspan and Blankfeld formed additional business units under the Genealogy by Genetics company, between 2008 and 2012, to sell non-genealogical genetics tests.[39][40]

In September 2012, Greenspan and Blankfeld restructured Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd. This included renaming it Gene by Gene, Ltd.[38][41] After restructuring, the business comprises four divisions. These are DNA DTC, DNA Findings, DNA Traits, and Family Tree DNA.[16][41]


  • Greenspan, Bennett (Spring 2008). "Can DNA Testing Confirm Jewish Ancestry?" (PDF). Avotaynu. XXIV (1): 11–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  • Greenspan, Bennett (November 2010). "An Insider's Look at the Genealogy DNA Field" (PDF). Texas Jewish Historical Society: 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  • Elhaik, E.; Greenspan, E.; Staats, S.; et al. (2013). "The GenoChip: A New Tool for Genetic Anthropology". Genome Biology and Evolution. 5 (5): 1021–31. doi:10.1093/gbe/evt066. PMC 3673633. PMID 23666864.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b (2010), U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc.
  2. ^ a b Clayton, Mark (November 17, 1998). "Seeking the perfect school". The Christian Science Monitor.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Lomax, John Nova (April 14, 2005). "Who's Your Daddy?". Houston Press. Houston Press, LP.
  4. ^ a b c d "Library Issues Forum: Bennett Greenspan". George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. May 23, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Harmon, Amy (July 25, 2005). "Blacks Pin Hope on DNA to Fill Slavery's Gaps in Family Trees". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Remero, Simon (October 29, 2005). "Hispanics Uncovering Roots as Inquisition's 'Hidden' Jews". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b Alsevr, Jennifer (February 5, 2006). "DNA Kits Aim to Link You to the Here and Then". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Wade, Nicholas (June 21, 2006). "Back to Earth After Taking Fall From Genghis's Family Tree". The New York Times.
  9. ^ a b c Belli, Anne (January 18, 2005). "Moneymakers: Bennett Greenspan". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Communications, Inc.
  10. ^ a b c Capper, Russ (November 15, 2008). "Bennett Greenspan of". The BusinessMakers Radio Show. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Nixon, Ron (November 25, 2007). "DNA Tests Find Branches but Few Roots". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Wagner, Jennifer K.; Cooper, Jill D.; Sterling, Rene; Royal, Charmaine D. (March 1, 2012). "Tilting at windmills no longer: a data-driven discussion of DTC DNA ancestry tests". Genetics in Medicine. 14 (6): 586–593. doi:10.1038/gim.2011.77. PMC 8339991. PMID 22382803. Family Tree DNA offered the first DTC genetic ancestry test in 2000
  13. ^ Wade, Nicholas (February 28, 2007). "Study Raises Possibility of Jewish Tie For Jefferson". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b Harmon, Amy (April 2, 2007). "Stalking Strangers' DNA to Fill in the Family Tree". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Nixon, Ron (November 25, 2007). "DNA Tests Find Branches but Few Roots". The New York Times.
  16. ^ a b "Supreme Court Ruling Today Allows DNATraits to Offer Low Cost BRCA Breast and Ovarian Cancer Gene Testing in U.S." The Wall Street Journal.
  17. ^ a b "Interview with Bennett Greenspan". Journal of Genetic Genealogy. 5 (2): v–vii. 2009.
  18. ^ a b "Bennett Greenspan Discusses Using DNA to Track Genealogy @ The Breman Museum, Atlanta GA". Eventbrite. April 28, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2013. Mr. Greenspan will be speaking on 'Using DNA to settle family disputes, connect to long-lost relatives and to garner an appreciation for where your ancestors came from and where they journeyed since our departure from Africa.'
  19. ^ "CSE Distinguished Lecture Series: Bennett Greenspan". Georgia Tech College of Computing. April 29, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013. Title of Talk: The Genomic Revolution Thirteen Years Later: Genetic Genealogy and Beyond
  20. ^ a b c "Obituary: Maurice I. "Bud" Greenspan". Omaha World-Herald. July 17, 2009.
  21. ^ a b c Dardashti, Schelly Talalay (March 30, 2008). "When oral history meets genetics". The Jerusalem Post.
  22. ^ a b Greenspan, Bennett (November 2010). "An Insider's Look at the Genealogy DNA Field" (PDF). Texas Jewish Historical Society: 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  23. ^ a b "The Shield". 1968. 1968: 219. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ "Bennett Greenspan – Class of 1970, Westside High School, Omaha, Nebraska, United States". The NamesDatabase. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  25. ^ B'nai B'rith (1969). "The National Jewish Monthly". 84. Washington [etc.] B'nai B'rith: 54. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ a b c d e Bradford, Nicole (February 24, 2008). "Riding the 'genetic revolution'". Houston Business Journal. American City Business Journals.
  27. ^ State of California. "California Marriage Index, 1960–1985" (Microfiche). Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  28. ^ Greenspan, Bennett (2007). Opening Talk. Genetic Genealogy Conference for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators. Houston, Texas.
  29. ^ Texas: Texas Department of State Health Services. "Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997" (Microfiche). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ "Archive of the Jewish Herald-Voice Houston, Texas: 1908–2007".
  31. ^ "Industrial Photographic Supply". Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  32. ^ Stewart A. Feldman & Associates, L.L.P., Appellant v. Industrial Photographic Supply, Inc, Bell Industries, Inc., and Bennett Greenspan, Appellees (November 30, 2000).
  33. ^ "About". Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  34. ^ a b Gibbens, Pam (April 2006). "Talk of The Town – At Familytree DNA, it's all Relative". Greater Houston Weekly / Houston Chronicle. Hearst Communications, Inc.
  35. ^ Skorecki, Karl; Selig, Sara; Blazer, Shraga; Bradman, Robert; Bradman, Neil; Waburton, P. J.; Ismajlowicz, Monica; Hammer, Michael F. (January 1, 1997). "Y chromosomes of Jewish priests". Nature. 385 (6611): 32. Bibcode:1997Natur.385...32S. doi:10.1038/385032a0. PMID 8985243. S2CID 5344425.
  36. ^ "National Genealogical Society Quarterly". 93 (1–4). National Genealogical Society. 2005: 248. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  37. ^ Moore, CeCe (February 9, 2013). "A Visit to Family Tree DNA's State-of-the-Art Lab". Your Genetic Genealogist. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  38. ^ a b Moore, Charles (April 24, 2013). "Houston-Based Gene By Gene To Provide Student Clinical Phase Instruction, Training, And Supervision at MD Anderson Cancer Center". BioNews Texas.
  39. ^ Bettinger, Blaine (May 28, 2008). "Interview Series I – Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA". The Genetic Genealogist. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  40. ^ Bettinger, Blaine (February 20, 2008). "Family Tree DNA Launches DNATraits, A New DNA Testing Company". The Genetic Genealogist. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  41. ^ a b Estes, Roberta (November 13, 2012). "Family Tree DNA Conference 2012 – Nits and Grits". Retrieved November 28, 2012.

Further reading[edit]


Past Lectures

  • "Bennett Greenspan". Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto. January 26, 2011. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  • "2011 Events". Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto. March 23, 2011. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2013. Topic: What We Can Learn from DNA Testing to Help our Genealogy Research

Press Releases

Company Information Pages