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Forensic Genomics Firm Verogen Acquires Genealogy Website GEDmatch

NEW YORK – Forensic genomics company Verogen has acquired genomics database and genealogy firm GEDmatch for an undisclosed amount.

GEDmatch, based in Lake Worth, Florida, allows users to upload genetic profiles created by other genealogy sites in order to search for familial links. Its database currently has more than 1.3 million customer profiles and is gaining up to 1,000 new users daily, the company said.

San Diego-based Verogen was founded by Illumina and venture capital firm Telegraph Hill Partners in 2017 to sell products and services for forensic laboratories based on Illumina sequencing technologies. Earlier this year Verogen's MiSeq FGx Forensic Genomics System was approved by the FBI for use by forensic laboratories to generate DNA profiles for the National DNA Index System.

The acquisition will give Verogen access to GEDmatch's database of genetic profiles, although not necessarily the entire database — the website allows users to choose whether law enforcement can search uploaded files to solve violent crimes. GEDmatch has already been used by law enforcement officials for this purpose, most famously the arrest of accused Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo in 2018.

In a statement issued yesterday, GEDmatch said that by joining Verogen it will be able to better ensure privacy protection and the customer experience for users of its site. Specifically, in the coming months GEDmatch users will begin to see improvements to the website such as an enhanced homepage with functionality and improved search functions.

"Verogen has infrastructure in place to bolster security and enhance usability for customers," a Verogen spokesperson elaborated in an email. "In fact, security vulnerabilities have already been addressed, and Verogen is proactively searching for any other potential issues. In the future, additional applications will be offered, but basic consumer tools will remain free. The terms of service will not change in regards to how data is used, and customers still have ownership of their data."

GEDmatch Founder Curtis Rogers noted in a statement that "we are and always have been a genealogy site whose goal is to help people find answers they're looking for about themselves and their families. As we grow, we want to enhance the customer experience by making the site more user-friendly and by ensuring data is protected. Verogen can help us do that."