DNA.land: Enabling Crowd Sourced Genomic Research

Enabling Crowd Sourced Genomic Research with DNA.land

Enabling Crowd Sourced Genomic Research with DNA.land

DNA.land, a new webservice enabling crowdsourced genomic research, was launched by a team led by Yaniv Erlich and Joe Pickrell from NYGC  at this year’s ASHG. The new site enables anyone to share their genetic data with an “easy to understand consent form”, learn more about their genome and help scientists use the genetic data for genomic research.

Thanks to low-cost microarray technologies, the personal genetic testing services like 23andMe and ancestry.com are helping thousands of individuals to get their genetic data and learn more about personal genetics. However, the genetic data are typically confined within such companies.

More recently, noble efforts like openSNP.org and Personal Genome Project, enable individuals to share their genetic data openly and freely to everyone.  openSNP.org, in four years since opening, has over 4,000 individuals sharing genetic and phenotypic data openly. Similarly, Personal Genome Project has been making big strides in expanding to sequencing more individuals’ whole genome and making it and phenotype data available freely. In addition to sequence data, PGP is also sharing some data from services like 23andMe.

The number of people who have shared their genetic data openly to a project like openSNP is still small compared tot the number of people who have genetic data and also it is small for making new genetic discoveries. (Just earlier this summer 23andMe had its one millionth customer and the number of genotyped individuals will only increase in the coming years. ) One of the bottlenecks for seeing huge growth in adapting crowdsourced genomics is that,  not all are comfortable with sharing the genetic data openly.

The new project, DNA.land, by academic scientists with clear consent and respect for privacy, is poised to make a difference in enabling crowdsourced genomic research. Within a week of DNA.land’s launch, over  5,600 individuals have shared their genetic data.

For now, DNA.land lets users upload the DNA data from services like 23andMe and infers ancestry, relatives based on the shared genomic segments. Within a few hours of data upload, DNA.land also offers imputed genome, imputed by using the reference population data. Pretty soon, DNA.land will ask the users to fill out surveys related to ancestry and health and use it to make discoveries.

If you have genotyped yourself, go ahead and sign up with DNA.land, learn more about your genome and enable science.

Also check out the nice piece on DNA.land at  Nature Scientists hope to attract millions to ‘DNA.LAND’ (would have loved to see it mention openSNP, one of the early attempts at sharing genetic data.)

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