Oct 30, 2023 - Research

23andMe to Present New COVID Data at ASHG Conference

Among the talks and presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics during the first week of November in Washington D.C. will be two poster presentations by 23andMe scientists on new genetic findings around COVID and long COVID.

The poster presentations are part of a collection of presentations, panel discussions, and talks by scientists from 23andMe at this year’s conference. 

A logo for 23andMe's COVID-19 Research Study

23andMe’s Vice President of Genomic Health, Noura Abul-Husn, M.D. Ph.D. will be on a panel focused on returning genetic results to consumers. 23andMe senior research project manager Anjali Shashtri, Ph. D., will talk on a separate panel about 23andMe’s efforts in building trust and research participation within underrepresented populations.

ASHG expects more than 8,000 researchers and clinicians at this year’s meeting, where they’ll share emerging discoveries and new genetic research. 

“Human genetics is transforming science and health at a rapid pace, and ASHG’s 75th anniversary Annual Meeting provides both a milestone in the history of human genetics and genomics and a moment to look to a future in which genetics research improves the health and wellbeing of people everywhere,” said ASHG President Brendan Lee, MD, PhD. “Thousands of our members from across the globe will join to network, share discoveries, and explore new ways to apply genetics knowledge.”

23andMe COVID Research

The two COVID presentations highlight include data on novel genetic variants associated with long COVID and other variants associated with COVID and having the symptom of diarrhea. Other studies have shown that having diarrhea may prolong the time it takes to clear the virus from their bodies, increasing the chances of more severe symptoms.

The two studies are part of ongoing COVID research 23andMe began soon after the pandemic emerged in 2020. 

The work has revealed new insights on the role blood type plays in severity and susceptibility to the virus, as well as insights into the genetics that influence different reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. In early 2022, 23andMe published a study in Nature Genetics that identified genetic variants associated with the loss of smell or taste due to COVID-19. That paper offers more detail on the study, which identified variants near two olfactory genes — UGT2A1 and UGT2A2.


The work presented this year at ASHG includes data on novel variants associated with long COVID. The variants are in genes within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex related to immune response. Studies previously revealed an association of one of the variants with COPD, another with an allergic response, and a third with a response to viral infection. 

The new data may help as researchers are still trying to determine why some people with COVID develop long COVID. Estimates suggest that between 12 -to- 16 percent of people with COVID will develop long COVID. The risk of long COVID is much higher among COVID patients with symptoms that are serious enough to require hospitalization.  

One of the largest of its kind, this study included data from 140,000 23andMe customers who consented to participate in research, 41,000 of whom had long COVID. 

The study also confirmed some previous findings and found novel genetic variants associated with long COVID. Among those were that females were likelier to develop long COVID than males. Individuals with long COVID are also more likely to have had depression, smoked cigarettes, or have had high blood pressure than those who do not develop long COVID. In addition, the researchers found genetic correlations between long COVID and conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and depression.

COVID and Diarrhea

23andMe’s second COVID-related presentation at the ASHG conference includes new genetic findings about individuals with COVID who also experience diarrhea. The study included data from about 140,000 people with COVID who also consented to participate in 23andMe’s research; of that total, about 80,000 reported having diarrhea as a symptom of COVID.

The researchers found several novel genetic variants associated with diarrhea and COVID-19. The strongest association was in the gene CYP7A1, associated with lipid function and cholesterol levels. Researchers also found an association with a variant in the gene CCR9, which was previously associated with susceptibility to COVID. Another variant associated with diarrhea among those with COVID was a variant in the gene GCKR, which is associated with fasting plasma glucose and chronic kidney disease.

23andMe Other Research Presentations

The conference will include a broad range of research across the field of genomics. 

Along with the presentations on COVID and long COVID and panel discussions, 23andMe scientists will also be presenting some of our latest research on using polygenic risk scores to make earlier diagnoses of diabetes, evaluating the contributions of both rare and common variants in disease risk, and details from the study on the genetic legacy of African Americans from the Catoctin Furnace. 

23andMe’s Presentations & Panels
  • Noura Abul-Husn, M.D. Ph.D., 23andMe Vice President of Genomic Health
  • Presenter: “Returning genomic results to consumers: The DTC approach”
  • Sat, Nov 4 8:50 – 9:05 am (ET)
  • Conv Ctr/Ballroom C/Level 3
  • Presenter 04
  • Noura Abul-Husn, M.D. Ph.D., 23andMe Vice President of Genomic Health
  • Panelist: “Advancing Global Data Sharing and Complex Considerations”
  • Fri, Nov 3 3:00 – 4:15 pm (ET)
  • Conv Ctr/Room 152AB/Level 1
  • Anjali Shastri, Ph.D., 23andMe Senior Research Project Manager
  • Presenter: “Lessons learned in building trust and engaging underrepresented groups in direct-to-consumer genetic testing”
  • Sat, Nov 4 1:45 – 2:00 pm (ET)
  • Conv Ctr/Room 202A/Level 2
  • Presenter 06
  • Amy Sturm, Ph.D., 23andMe Director, Population Health Genomics
  • Session Co-Moderator “Harnessing return of value: Progress in returning genomic results to individuals in diverse, large-scale programs”
  • Sat, Nov 4 8:30 – 10:00 am (ET)
  • Conv Ctr/Ballroom C/Level 3
  • Session 92
  • Stella Aslibekyan, PhD, 23andMe Principal Scientist, Genetic Epidemiology
  • Poster: “Multi-ancestry analysis of COVID-19+ diarrhea reveals genetic associations with lipid function: a 23andMe Research Study”
  • Thu, Nov 2 3:00 – 5:00 pm (ET)
  • Board number 4160
  • Presenter 054
  • Ninad S. Chaudhary, PhD,  23andMe Postdoctoral Fellow, Genetic Epidemiology
  • Poster: “Genetic architecture of Long COVID indicates associations with immune function, and shared etiology with chronic conditions in European population”
  • Thu, Nov 02 3:00pm – 5:00pm (ET)
  • Board number 1666
  • Presenter 121
  • Zachary Fuller, PhD, 23andMe Scientist II, Statistical Geneticist
  • Poster: “Evaluating the contributions of rare and common variants in disease risk”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4137
  • Presenter 47
  • Chris Germain, PhD, 23andMe Scientist I, Statistical Geneticist & Machine Learning 
  • Poster: “Polygenic risk and early diagnosis of diabetes”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4323
  • Presenter 109
  • Éadaoin Harney, PhD, 23andMe Scientist I, Population Genetics R&D 
  • Poster: “The genetic legacy of African Americans from Catoctin Furnace”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 3122
  • Presenter 122
  • Sarah Laskey, PhD, 23andMe Senior Scientist, Health R&D 
  • Poster: “Absolute and relative contextualization of polygenic scores in genetically diverse and admixed populations”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4338
  • Presenter 114
  • Yanyu Liang, PhD, 23andMe Scientist I, Statistical Geneticist 
  • Poster: “Credible set is sensitive to imputation quality and missing variants”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4107
  • Presenter 037
  • Shubham Saini, PhD, 23andMe Scientist I, Statistical Geneticist 
  • Poster: “Population Scale Analysis of Copy Number Variation in 23andMe Research Cohort”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4326
  • Presenter 110
  • Jingchunzi Shi, PhD, 23andMe Senior Scientist I, Genomics R&D
  • Poster: “Evaluating genetically-predicted causal effects of lipoprotein(a) in human diseases: a phenome-wide Mendelian randomization study”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4136
  • Presenter 046
  • Wei Wang, PhD, 23andMe Senior Scientist I, Statistical Genetics
  • Poster: “A polygenic risk score of postoperative nausea and vomiting improves risk prediction and shows genetic correlation with CNS conditions including vertigo and motion sickness”
  • Fri, Nov 3; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 4209
  • Presenter 010
  • Amy Williams, PhD, 23andMe Senior Scientist II, Product R&D
  • Poster: “Reconstructing parent genotypes at direct testing-level accuracy using siblings and other relatives.”
  • Thurs, Nov 2; 3:00-5:00 pm ET
  • Board number 3106
  • Presenter 106

You can find out more about this year’s ASHG meeting here.

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