23andMe Populations Collaborations Program

Overview

At 23andMe, we want our database and our genomic studies to reflect the rich genetic diversity of all people. As part of that effort, 23andMe’s Populations Collaborations Program offers qualified researchers genotyping of samples from underrepresented and understudied populations around the world at no cost to the researcher or participants. This program aims to expand and improve 23andMe’s Reference Data Panel while also furthering important genetic research. By improving the genetic diversity of our research database and including data from underrepresented populations, we hope more people globally will benefit from genetics research.

If you are a researcher and you seek to genotype a population that is underrepresented in genetic studies, we’d like to collaborate with you!

 

What 23andMe Will Provide

  • Individual-level genotype data on your research participants using our most recent chip
  • Up to $10,000 to support field collection and cover project costs
  • One-time grant for community support

Background

The 23andMe Reference Data Panel consists of genotypic data of people representing locations and groups from across the world; the primary use of these data is to power our ancestry reports.

Improving this Reference Data Panel will enhance our ability to provide more granular ancestry reports to consumers from underrepresented regions and provide more equitable products and services for all customers. Through prior collaborations of this nature, we have generated data from populations including peoples of Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and southern Africa and improved reports for customers of African ancestry. We also use the data acquired through this program to conduct research for publication and to improve 23andMe’s products and services. Together, our research will expand genomic studies to be more inclusive and increase the global understanding of genetic diversity.

How it Works

Step 1

Researcher and 23andMe develop an agreement describing collaboration responsibilities, logistics, and ethical review

Step 2

23andMe sends sample collection tubes to researcher. Researcher takes tubes to study site.*

Step 3

Research participants spit and answer demographic questions.

Step 4

Researcher ships tubes back to 23andMe.

Step 5

23andMe genotypes the samples and transfers data to the researcher.

*Collaborating institution responsible for compliance with all applicable laws.

Requirements

 

What type of Collaboration is of interest to 23andMe?

At 23andMe we are most interested in genotyping populations that are understudied in terms of genetics. We will prioritize projects involving populations in the following regions and countries as well as applications focused on studying indigenous populations. Researchers studying any under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.

Priority regions include:

Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Republic of Congo), Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gambia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

What criteria should my project meet?

We are most interested in projects that meet the following criteria. The researcher:

  1. Has already identified a population and has developed the appropriate relationships and approvals necessary to work with these groups.
  2. Seeks genotype data on between 300 and 1000 research participants, which would include 50-100 individuals from any given ethnolinguistic group(s).
  3. Will be responsible for obtaining informed consent, saliva, and basic demographic information about the research participants for genotyping during the collaboration process. (Demographic information includes the participants’ age and sex, as well as the birthplaces, ethnic affiliations, and language(s) spoken by the participants and their grandparents).
  4. Is at an early stage in the genetics research project, such that if selected, 23andMe can work collaboratively with the researcher to develop an appropriate research protocol and consent.*
  5. May be from an Institution that is public or private but must be based in one of the countries 23andMe ships to, and the research must be for non-commercial purposes.

*The informed consent document will include permission for 23andMe to store, access, and analyze the sample and use the resulting data for 23andMe’s intended purposes.

Applying

 

How do I apply?

Apply using the form linked below. Applications are due July 31, 2019. Applications are reviewed by an internal committee with expertise in human and population genetics. Successful applicants will be notified by email.

Populations Collaborations Application Form

 

What information will I need to provide?

  • A brief summary of the proposed research, which will be made public if the proposal is accepted (no more than 500 words).
  • A project proposal to include descriptions of:
    • The proposed research project. This should mention the specific populations you plan to study, ethnolinguistic group(s) of the participants, the size of the study, and plans for engaging local researchers or local community members in the project.
    • Any previous research with the population.
    • Your plans for obtaining necessary consents, approvals and permits to conduct research in the region/country and transport samples.
  • A list of co-investigators and other personnel who will access the data.
  • An NIH-style biosketch or CV for the principal investigator.

 

Additional Requirements

  • We ask collaborators to agree that the results of their research will be published in open-access scientific journals (or as open-access articles) and according to 23andMe’s publication policy.
  • To facilitate successful collaboration and data transfer, each collaborator’s institution must enter into an agreement with 23andMe, including the above terms and other requirements.
  • Protecting the privacy of research participants is of critical importance to 23andMe. Any data sharing will be in accordance with the terms of the Agreement between 23andMe and the collaborator’s institution.

 

If you have any questions regarding the application process or any other information listed on this page pertaining to the Populations Collaborations Program, please email apply.research@23andme.com.

FAQ

 

How will applications be evaluated?

Applications will be evaluated by 23andMe scientists based on the following considerations:

  • Extent to which the population is understudied or under-represented in 23andMe’s database
  • Expertise of and resources available to the investigators
  • Willingness to share samples and data with 23andMe
  • Extent to which the project benefits the community studied

 

What countries does 23andMe ship to?

23andMe ships to all the countries listed here.

 

Does 23andMe plan to sequence the samples?

23andMe is open to discussing the possibility of sequencing on a case-by-case basis.

 

What chip does 23andMe use?

The chip we use is based on the Illumina® Global Screening Array (GSA), one of the Illumina Human Consortia arrays. This array has been designed by a consortia of prominent international researchers to provide highly predictive, hand-curated content, as well as high-value markers for translational research applications and sample quality control that are designed to be useful across a broad range of applications, populations, and diseases. We have added SNPs of particular interest to us to this chip, resulting in a total of over 600,000 SNPs tested.

 

Have there been previous Populations Collaboration projects?

Yes! Through prior collaborations of this nature, we have generated data from populations including peoples of Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and southern Africa.

 

What project costs will 23andMe cover?

23andMe will provide up to $10,000 for transportation, lodging, and local staff support for fieldwork.

 

What does the 23andMe community grant include?

23andMe may provide a one-time grant of up to $10,000 for community support.

 

Why does 23andMe need to be involved in developing the informed consent documents?

23andMe needs to be involved in developing the informed consent documents to ensure the privacy of the research participant’s sample and data and to ensure that participants are adequately informed regarding 23andMe’s storage, access, and analysis of their sample and the use of the resulting data for 23andMe’s intended purposes, described in the overview and background sections above.

 

Can I still apply if my country of interest is not listed?

Yes, please do, especially if you are working with indigenous peoples who are currently understudied in terms of genetics.

 

What size research cohort will 23andMe support?

We expect that researchers seek to genotype between 300 and 1000 research participants, including 50-100 individuals from any given ethnolinguistic group. If your study is larger or smaller, we still encourage you to apply.

 

Are there other ways to collaborate with 23andMe?

If your research project does not meet the requirements of the Populations Collaborations program, we provide additional options for collaborations:

  • Research Innovation Collaborations. If you have an idea for how to collaborate with 23andMe scientists to analyze data from the 23andMe Research Cohort in order to discover new genetic associations and/or develop new methods and tools, learn more about this program here.
  • Publication Dataset Access. If you are interested in accessing summary statistics from a dataset included in a 23andMe publication, learn more here.