Behind the Scenes With 23andMe

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Editor’s note: Pending an FDA decision, 23andMe no longer offers new customers access to health reports referred to in this post. Customers who received their health information prior to November 22, 2013 will still be able to see their health reports, but those who purchased after that time will only have access to ancestry information as well as access to their uninterpreted raw data. These new customers may receive health reports in the future dependent on FDA marketing authorization.

OK, we know we already made a big deal about our television advertising campaign last month, but we wanted to bring your attention to something you might have missed.

One of our very own bloggers, Shirley Wu, Senior Science Content Manager here at 23andMe, is featured in the behind-the-scenes video. Shirley also ran the blog from 2010 to 2012.

Just to be clear, Shirley hasn’t gone Hollywood. Her job during the shoot was to make sure that the commercials accurately reflect the science behind what we do. The ads are unique in that all of the actors are also customers of 23andMe and the scripts were written with their results in mind.

As Shirley says in the video, this is all part of our mission to offer people a chance to explore their own genetic information because it can be a very powerful tool.

If you haven’t already, take a look at the video.






  • Ron Hartoebben

    Why would two male first cousins (who share a maternal grandmother because their mothers were sisters) not show up as related according to 23andMe? Is it possible that these tests are inaccurate?

    • ScottH

      Ron, Both parties have to opt in to the “show close relative” option to show up on your DNA Relative matches. Here is a more detailed description of how to show close relatives and remember both you and your cousin have to opt in.

  • jean
  • kathy

    How accurate are the results?

    • ScottH

      Kathy,
      As part of our quality control process, an anonymized set of data is reviewed to ensure that it meets our quality standards prior to being loaded into your account. The data are reviewed for call rate and accuracy.

      Call rate is defined as the fraction of called SNPs per sample over the total number of SNPs present on the genotyping chip. The vast majority of the variants on our chip have a 98% or greater call rate, meaning that the chip can provide accurate data for more than 98% of those variants in any particular person. This includes SNPs associated with our specific Health and Ancestry features. SNPs for which a confident determination cannot be made are reported as “no calls.” In the event that the overall call rate for a sample falls below our threshold, the sample is subject to reanalysis.

      Accuracy checks include, among others, checking inferred genotype sex against the sex reported during registration.

      Occasionally, sets or batches of samples are flagged for additional quality review. This does not reflect on the quality or viability of a particular sample, but simply the overall set of data. In order to ensure that you receive information that meets our standards, in these cases, we will perform additional review steps prior to releasing data.

      • Gerald West

        When will I see the results of your DNA tests for me?

        • ScottH

          Gerald,
          Sample processing takes approximately 4-6 weeks from the time your sample is received at the lab. Please note that processing times are estimates, and should not be considered a guarantee that your results will be returned by a particular date. While samples are processed in the order in which they are received, some samples may require additional steps to be processed successfully, therefore extending the processing time.

          You can find up-to-date information regarding your sample status by logging in to your 23andMe account. In addition, you will receive email notifications at the address associated with your 23andMe account for the following processing milestones:

          When your sample has been received at the lab
          In the event of an analysis failure due to insufficient DNA or a low call rate
          When your results are complete and available to view within your 23andMe account

          As soon as processing is complete, the lab will report your data to 23andMe. After quality review, we will then make the data available to you through our website. Data is provided in stages – your Health results, since they are based solely on your own individual genetic data, are returned first (along with select Ancestry data). Specific Ancestry features results rely on additional analysis that can only occur after your initial results are loaded into the 23andMe database. The final step of processing is complete after these computations have been performed.

          You must log in to your 23andMe account on our secure website to view your information. We do not include a printed report through the mail or provide your data via email.

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