Oct 13, 2011 - Inside 23andMe

What’s Behind 23andMe Health and Ancestry

If you’re just joining us, our scientists are busy this week presenting findings from our research at ICHG/ASHG 2011 in Montreal.

But not all of our scientific contributions are in the realm of genetic associations. As some of our other conference posters have shown, we also spend a lot of time thinking about unique methods for analyzing and evaluating data, not just to investigate pressing scientific questions of relevance to our product, but to provide a comprehensive service that continuously evolves as the science does.

Our final set of posters  focuses on our Ancestry features, which include innovative tools like Relative Finder and Ancestry Finder, and  our Health reports, for which we have designed a framework that fits the unique context of direct-to-consumer, participant-driven genetics research.

(For a list of all of our presentations, click here.)

Learning more about where people are from with Ancestry Finder

Nearly two years ago we launched Relative Finder, an innovative tool for analyzing autosomal DNA data to match genetically related individuals. About a year later we followed this up with a feature called Ancestry Finder, which uses the same algorithm as Relative Finder to identify matching DNA segments between individuals but goes an extra step of providing geographic ancestry information corresponding to country of origin for each individual’s grandparents. More than 35,000 customers have filled out this information, providing a wealth of data to investigate how well self-reported ancestry reflects genetic ancestry.

Research Scientist Dr. J. Mike Macpherson shares findings from an analysis of the data driving Ancestry Finder during the poster session on Friday October 14th from 2-3pm with his poster,

“Intra-European Ancestry Assignment: Insights from Identity-By-Descent in a Large Database of Self-Reported Ancestry.” (#445F)

Keeping customers updated on the latest genetics research

One of 23andMe’s missions is to be the world’s most trusted source of genetic information. While this includes the actual As, Ts, Cs, and Gs, it also includes information about associations between genetic variants and various health conditions and traits. The available knowledge is constantly evolving as researchers conduct and publish studies, and thus we are constantly evaluating new findings as they come out. Ensuring scientific validity is paramount, but with a large customer base holding varied interests, we must also consider the relevance, completeness, and diversity of content when deciding which findings to report.

Science Content Manager Dr. Shirley Wu discusses these considerations and the criteria we’ve developed to address them during the poster session on Friday October 14th from 2-3pm with her poster.

“Criteria for evaluating genetic associations for use in direct-to-consumer personal genetic analysis.” (#1353F)


(Also see our white paper describing our criteria for vetting genetic associations reported in the scientific literature.)

Check back later for recaps of the event!

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