About 1.2 million people have had their DNA sequenced by 23andMe, the Google-backed genetics company. Of those, about 80% agree to share their data with researchers and answer follow-up survey questions about their health.
In an interview with Fast Company, 23andMe’s research head Joyce Tung says that demand from researchers has increased in recent years, particularly after the recent well-publicized crowdsourced depression study. Some researchers are beginning to find value in the data, despite initial concerns that it’s hard to trust self-reported health information. (Many of us will withhold information about alcohol consumption, for instance.) Via 23andMe:
23andMe had 25 applications from researchers in the fall of 2013, and that number jumped to 45 in the fall of 2014. The numbers aren’t yet available for 2015 and 2016, but a company spokesman did share that the team received nearly 20 requests from academics to study the data in the wake of the depression study, which was published just two weeks ago.