23andMe Research Innovation Collaborations Program
In addition to providing direct-to-consumer genetic testing through the 23andMe® Service, 23andMe endeavors to advance biomedical science through genetic research.
Some of those discoveries have and will come from our own scientists, but others will come from collaborations with academic researchers.
The 23andMe Research Innovation Collaborations Program pairs up academic researchers with 23andMe scientists to perform analyses. Through this program, academic researchers can access de-identified, aggregated data from the 23andMe Research Cohort.
The 23andMe database is a rich resource, with genotypic and phenotypic information from more than 5 million of our customers, 80 percent of whom consent to participate in 23andMe Research. By consenting to participate, our customers agree to make their de-identified genetic data available for study in aggregate and take part in online research under a protocol approved by an external institutional review board (IRB). These research participants also answer online survey questions on a variety of topics, and to date have contributed over 2 billion phenotypic data points.
Recent Collaboration Highlights
Over the years, we have participated in dozens of collaborations with academic institutions on a wide variety of topics. Here are select examples of projects we are currently pursuing or have recently completed:
- In collaboration with Neal Sondheimer and Andrew Paterson at The Hospital for Sick Children, 23andMe implemented a method to quantify variability in mitochondrial DNA sequence within individuals, and identified regions associated with higher degrees of variability.
- 23andMe scientists are working with Anne Giersch at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a team of scientists at the hearX group to study the genetics of age-related hearing impairment using a custom survey and an online hearing test.
- We have investigated the genetics and heritability of musical rhythm, in collaboration with Reyna Gordon and a team of investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
- 23andMe is collaborating with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium to complete the largest multi-ethnic GWAS of major depressive disorder to date. Aggregate-level data from 23andMe participants of European, African American, Latino, and Asian ancestry will contribute to the analysis.
Our research team has published or collaborated on over 150 scientific papers. For a complete list, visit our Publications page.
What type of collaboration is of interest to 23andMe?
We seek collaborators with complementary datasets, expertise, and analytic techniques to work with 23andMe scientists to enable new genetic discoveries. In this application cycle, we are especially interested in proposals that reflect the following themes:
What data can be found in the 23andMe database?
23andMe has over 10 million customers, over 80% of whom have consented to allow their aggregate, de-identified data to be used for research. Phenotypic data is self-reported by 23andMe research participants who have responded to surveys or completed web-based assessments provided through 23andMe’s Services. A supplement with an overview of the types of phenotype data we collect can be found here.
How diverse in the 23andMe dataset?
23andMe has enrolled large research cohorts representing diverse populations who have been genotyped and phenotyped, and have consented to participate in research. We welcome collaborators who contribute complementary datasets or methodological expertise to leverage these data and enable genetic research and discovery that is equitable for all.
*Race and ethnicity categories inferred from genetic data are highly correlated with self-reported race and ethnicity; here we use genetic ancestry as a proxy for self-reported race & ethnicity.
**Participant numbers as of September, 2019
We accept applications from academic researchers on a rolling basis. In June and December, we hold a scientific review to evaluate proposals for the limited number of collaborative projects we can initiate. Applicants are informed of our committee decision approximately three months after the deadline. By opening this opportunity to the greater scientific community, we hope to widen our perspective, spark new innovation, and generate meaningful discoveries from the 23andMe database beyond what we can accomplish on our own.
Who can apply?
- Institutions can be domestic or foreign, public or private, but must be non-commercial and the research must also be for non-commercial purposes
- Researchers may be at any stage of their careers. Applications submitted by a group of researchers at the same institution will also be considered.
How do I apply?
Your application will include the following information:
- A research proposal summary, which will be made public if the proposal is accepted (no more than 500 words)
- A description of the proposed research project (no more than 2,000 words)
- A description of unique datasets or analytic tools that your research group has developed and will provide for the collaboration. Researchers should include a description of the IRB-approved protocol used to collect the dataset, if applicable (a total of no more than 1,000 words)
- A list of co-investigators and other personnel
- A list of collaborating institutions
- An NIH-style biosketch or CV for the principal investigator.
Submit your application using the following form by December 12, 2019:
Research Innovation Collaborations Application Form
How will applications be evaluated?
Applications will be evaluated by 23andMe scientists based on the following considerations:
- Scientific quality and innovativeness of the project proposed
- Expertise of and resources available to the investigators
- Alignment with 23andMe company objectives
- Quality and value of any complementary datasets, methodologies, or concepts that the investigators will share
Additional Information and Requirements
- De-identified 23andMe data will be shared in aggregate (rather than individual level) and cannot be distributed, shared, or sold to third parties
- Chosen collaborators will receive non-exclusive access to the data
- Collaborators must agree that the results of their research will be published in open-access scientific journals (or open-access articles) and according to 23andMe’s publication best practices. Currently, those best practices only allow for the publication of summary statistics for up to 10,000 SNPs; this applies to meta-analyses that include 23andMe data
- Collaborators may not file for intellectual property rights covering the results of this collaborative research
- 23andMe may request that collaborators meet with 23andMe (in person or by phone) to discuss the research
- Please note that this collaboration will not cover the cost of additional data collection or fees for making an article open-access
- To enable 23andMe’s collaboration and data transfer each collaborator and their institution must enter into a Data Transfer Agreement with 23andMe, which includes the above terms and other requirements