Sen. Elizabeth Warren's ex-husband co-founded a DNA testing company and wrote one of the first computer codes for making genetic comparisons.
Jim Warren's career involved him in the kinds of genetic testing that Elizabeth Warren controversially invoked this month to prove that she had Native American ancestry.
One of the two other co-founders of his testing company, FamilyTreeDNA, has worked with Carlos Bustamante, the Stanford University geneticist who administered a DNA test at Elizabeth Warren's request.
Bustamante, a Stanford University geneticist, conducted the test, which Elizabeth Warren used to respond to President Trump's "Pocahontas" taunt and his mockery of her previous claim to be a Native American while a professor at Harvard Law School in the 1990s. Warren's roll-out of the test results was widely seen as a sign that she is running for president in 2020.
Rather than using a commercial service to conduct her DNA test, Warren hired Bustamante, 43, who appears in the video explaining the test and in a scene in which the Massachusetts senator telephones his office and asks to speak with him. Warren received considerable criticism for the test, which found that her Native American heritage stretch back six to 10 generations, making her between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American.
[Opinion: Elizabeth Warren's DNA test shows she isn't Native American, makes her the butt of jokes once again]
Elizabeth Warren's previously unreported connection to the family heritage industry is remote and dates back decades but is nevertheless a strand of a controversy that is unlikely to have been put to rest by the Bustamante test.
The Massachusetts senator, now 69, married Jim Warren when she was just 19. They met when she was in high school in Norman, Okla. They had two children, Amelia Warren Tyagi, now 47, and Alexander Warren, now 42, but divorced in 1978 after 10 years of marriage.
Elizabeth Warren began dating Harvard Law professor Bruce Mann before her first marriage had ended and she remarried six months after her divorce. Jim Warren remarried in 1989 and died in 2003. One person who was close to Jim Warren said that after the marriage ended "there was no love lost between the two."
Jim Warren co-founded FamilyTreeDNA in 2000. Today, it is one of the major vendors of genetic testing kits, along with 23andMe, the Genographic Project, and Ancestry.
A person who knew and worked for some two decades with Jim Warren, a mathematical wizard who worked at IBM for 25 years and became a NASA engineer, told the Washington Examiner he was brought on to design a code using algorithms the company developed to make its first genetic comparisons.
The code, known in the company as the "Warren Project," was specifically for Y-DNA testing, which tests for patrilineal ancestry — which therefore could not have been used in Elizabeth Warren's test administered by Bustamante. FamilyTreeDNA declined to respond to inquiries about whether the project was named for Jim Warren.
Jim Warren was on the board of FamilyTreeDNA, along with founders Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld, who still work together for the company.
Bustamante is on the scientific board of Ancestry and has consulted on other projects. FamilyTreeDNA declined to answer questions about the company.
Bustamante has given no media interviews since the Elizabeth Warren test results were released. There was no response from his office to questions, but the Washington Examiner inquired about his relationship with Greenspan and whether or not he consulted Greenspan about Warren's test.
Warren's office did not respond to questions.