Monday, April 23, 2018

23andMe "is offering free kits to researchers studying populations in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere—but the ethics are tricky"

TA:

23andMe is best known for selling DNA test kits, but the company’s real value lies in the data of its 5 million customers. The bigger its genetic database, the more insights 23andMe can glean from DNA. That, in turn, means the more it can tell customers about their ancestry and health and the more valuable the data it shares with academic scientists and sells to pharmaceutical companies for research. About 80 percent of 23andMe customers choose to participate in such research.

As impressive as 23andMe’s genetic database is, it still has noticeable gaps—especially among Africans, Middle Easterners, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, and indigenous Americans.

...

The latest is the Population Collaborations Program, which allows U.S.-based scientists already studying underrepresented groups to apply for free spit kits and DNA analysis. In return, 23andMe gets to add the DNA to its database.