Living DNA

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Living DNA
IndustryOnline services
Genetic testing
FoundedSeptember 2016; 4 years ago (2016-09)
Key people
David Nicholson (CEO, co-founder)
Hannah Morden-Nicholson (Co-founder)

Living DNA is a UK-based company that specialises in DNA testing and analysis whose head office is in the UK with facilities in the USA and Denmark. The service is to provide deep ancestry details from all around the world, using a unique process of analysis and using linked DNA. It is one of the major DNA testing services in the world.[1][2] The company conducts three types of DNA analyses: autosomal, Y-chromosome and mitochrondrial.[3] However, while the DNA test results provide information about the origins of a person, genealogy, i.e. finding relatives in historic time, is not yet part of the company's portfolio.[citation needed]

History and partnership[edit]

Living DNA was co-founded by Tricia Nicholson and husband and wife team David Nicholson and Hannah Morden-Nicholson in 2016[4] in Frome, Somerset, England.[5][6][7][8] The company began after extensive research and work along with a team of around 100 genealogists around the world.[9] In 1999 Nicholson founded another company, DNA Worldwide, which he has been running since.[5]

In July 2018, Living DNA announced and signed a partnership agreement with Findmypast, also a British genealogy company.[10] By working together, their mission is to provide an extensive and detailed family roots and history.[11]

In 2019, Living DNA was reported to provide, for each DNA sample tested, recent (less than 80,00 years) ethnic breakdown for 80 regions in the world with the UK broken down in to 21 regions.[12] They also provided insight into female and paternal (for males) heritage going back about 200,000 years showing migration patterns out of Africa.[12]

DNA privacy concerns[edit]

Research published in the scientific journal eLife by geneticist Michael Edge from the University of California uncovered security concerns with customers DNA data held online by the smaller genealogy companies, including Living DNA. It was found that hackers using creative means could easily exploit these upload-based services. Biostatistician Sharon Browning from the University of Washington said that if consumers "care about their DNA's privacy, then they shouldn't upload [their DNA] to these databases."[13]

Critics and reviews[edit]

Living DNA has gotten a positive review from PCWorld.[3] Tech Radar commented that "..the vagueness of some of its results combined with its relatively high price mean it doesn’t stand out from the crowd."[14]

As at April 2020, ratings and reviews from the general public on the customer reviews website Trustpilot gave the company an average of 2.7 out of 5 stars.[15]

After getting DNA tests results from three different companies to know if his "dad's family came from Russia", David Gewirtz says, "the results I got back from Ancestry and 23andMe were shocking and upsetting would be an understatement." While "the results from Living DNA were substantially different and led to some fascinating insights that were actually really cool, rather than painful."[16]

Controversy surrounding key people[edit]

Director Hannah Morden-Nicholson, stepped down from the Frome Chamber of Commerce committee in early 2019 after being associated with a locally established "cult" Universal Medicine. This followed on from a BBC investigation into the "socially harmful" group.[17] Co-director David Nicholson is also dedicated to the sect and its leader’s teachings,[18] and ex-director and co-founder Tricia Nicholson declares a 'lifelong family friendship' with the sect's leader.[19][4]


  1. ^ McLaughlin, Molly K. "The Best DNA Testing Kits for 2019". PCMag. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  2. ^ David Gewirtz (7 October 2019). "The best DNA testing kits available now". CNET. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b Holger, Dieter (3 December 2018). "Living DNA review: This DNA test kit offers surprising detail". PCWorld. IDG Communications. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b "LIVING DNA LIMITED - Officers". Companies House. 10 January 2020. Archived from the original on 5 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b Williams, Mark (25 May 2017). "The lucrative rise of DNA testing: 'we created the market for what we do'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  6. ^ Frost, Maisha (2 November 2016). "Living DNA takes care with customers as they journey back into their past". Daily Express. London: Express Newspapers. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Living DNA offers exciting new possibilities for genetic genealogy". New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. 22 June 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  8. ^ Murray, Jordan (29 August 2019). "Hannah and David Nicholson: Living DNA". The CEO Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Living DNA: David Nicholson and Hannah Morden". Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  10. ^ Peck, Ashlee (20 July 2018). "Findmypast Partnering with Living DNA". Family Tree Magazine. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  11. ^ Eastman, Dick (13 November 2018). "Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience". Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  12. ^ a b Staff (22 April 2019). "Is this the most detailed at-home DNA testing kit yet?". CNN Underscored. CNN. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  13. ^ McDermott, Amy (14 February 2020). "Study uncovers new privacy worries for direct-to-consumer DNA testing". National Academy of Sciences. U.S. Archived from the original on 16 February 2020.
  14. ^ Gadgets, Samuel Horti 2019-06-21 (21 June 2019). "Living DNA review". TechRadar. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Living DNA is rated "Average" with 2.7 / 5 on Trustpilot". Trustpilot. Copenhagen, Denmark: Trustpilot Inc. 6 April 2020. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020.
  16. ^ David Gewirtz (22 October 2019). "My ancestry adventure: When DNA testing delivers unexpected and unsettling results". ZDNet. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Frome Chamber express concern about BBC's 'cult' investigation". Frome Times. Somerset, UK. 26 March 2019. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  18. ^ Students (21 February 2016). "Universal Medicine – The Facts of My Experience". The Truth about Universal Medicine. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Run by a wealthy old Etonian in deepest Somerset". Celebrity Best News. 16 March 2020. Archived from the original on 19 April 2020.

External links[edit]