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.
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:
Our research team has published or collaborated on over 150 scientific papers. For a complete list, visit our Publications page.
We seek collaborators with complementary datasets, expertise, and analytic techniques to work with 23andMe scientists to enable new genetic discoveries. Collaboration proposal topics can include:
23andMe will also consider collaboration proposals focused on COVID-19. These proposals can include studies of outcomes, comorbidities, health disparities, and impacts of policies implemented to address the pandemic. You can read more about 23andMe’s efforts to understand genetic factors associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes here: https://research.23andme.com/covid19/. If your proposal is related to COVID-19, please be sure to indicate this in your application. We are anticipating a high volume of COVID-19-related proposals, and our team of scientific reviewers is committed to selecting proposals where 23andMe’s participation will uniquely advance our understanding of this disease and the health of those impacted.
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.
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.
|Racial or ethnic category*||Approximate number of participants**|
*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.
Your application will include the following information:
Our next Research Innovation Collaborations application deadline will be on December 12, 2020. The application is now available.
Applications will be evaluated by 23andMe scientists based on the following considerations:
If you have performed a GWAS and would like a 23andMe scientist to test if your significant associations replicate in the 23andMe Research Cohort, please initiate your request by completing a replication request form (link below). We can typically complete replication requests within several weeks.
Please consider the following when submitting a replication request:
The following types of requests are reviewed on a rolling basis rather than in the review process that occurs twice a year:
Protecting the privacy of our research participants is of critical importance to 23andMe. Data sharing is structured to provide the same robust privacy protections that 23andMe research participants have as part of their normal participation in 23andMe Research. Only data from 23andMe customers who have accepted 23andMe’s IRB-approved consent document will be incorporated into any analysis. Only de-identified, aggregate data will be shared – no individual level data will be shared. All applicants should take this policy into consideration when designing the research approach.
Any data sharing will take place in accordance with the terms of the 23andMe Data Transfer Agreement between a collaborator, the collaborator’s institution, and 23andMe. Any actions taken by our collaborators that threaten the privacy of 23andMe research participants are grounds for termination of the collaboration and to other remedies described in such agreement.
If you have questions, please contact the Research Innovation Collaborations team (firstname.lastname@example.org).