Ancestry Results

Today marks a major step in Genes for Good: we began returning genetic data to participants. There’s clearly still more to do, but today we released ancestry information for 744 participants who joined Genes for Good and submitted a viable saliva sample. These participants were among the first to join our study. They contributed to genetic research and spread the word about Genes for Good. We’re delighted to have the privilege to work with their survey results and DNA, and to be able to give some information back to them.  

Ancestry results have arrived!

Finally! They’re here! We know you’ve been waiting patiently for a long time and we sincerely thank you. Our current release of ancestry results includes a pie chart with an estimate of your ancestral genetic composition, a comparison of how similar your DNA is to DNA of other individuals around the world, and the most likely genetic ancestry for each segment of your chromosomes.

Not everyone has received ancestry results yet. The reason that someone’s data is not yet available is because the DNA is still being processed at the lab. In addition to extracting your DNA from saliva and then genotyping that DNA, we put the resulting genotypes through extensive quality control procedures before preparing your data for return. This is a long process that we’re continually making faster as we improve protocols. As we’ve said in many online posts and personal emails, we continue to apologize for the delay and continue working to stay caught up.

There are some cool technical features associated with your ancestry results in the Genes for Good app. First, to help keep your information safe, we require double authentication to access your ancestry information. So, in addition to logging into Facebook in order to access the Genes for Good app, you will also request a Results Access Code within the Genes for Good app. The Access Code will be emailed to the email address associated with your Facebook account and you will have to provide the code to unlock your ancestry information. At any time while you’re using the app you can lock up your ancestry information, and then use your Access Code to unlock it again at your convenience. Features like this help keep your genetic data safe.

Raw genetic data available soon

That’s a promise. In addition to ancestry results, Genes for Good will also return what we call “raw” genetic data to those participants who choose to submit a saliva sample. By raw genetic data, we mean measurements of your DNA at around 500,000 positions in your genome. We also use a standard technique, called genotype imputation, to estimate your DNA at an additional 7 million sites.

Why aren’t raw genetic results available, when ancestry is?

Returning ancestry results like the interactive ancestry plots now available to some participants requires Genes for Good to analyze your genome, and then return summaries of that analysis. Giving back raw data requires distributing roughly 500 megabytes of downloads to each participant, or approaching 1000 gigabytes of downloads across the study so far. Instead of linking directly to your downloads through Facebook, which would be difficult to do securely, we’ve partnered with Box to set up a secure on-demand distribution system that’s integrated with the Genes for Good application. The security standards used by Box are high, and even compliant with HIPAA requirements used by hospitals to safeguard your medical information. Much of this work is already complete and is currently being tested. As such, participants that are able to access their ancestry results today can expect to see more about downloading their raw genetic data in the very near future.

How to Connect with Genes for Good

September 30, 2015