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Personal Genome Project Begins Releasing Information

image The Personal Genome Project (PGP) was established to analyze and publicly share the genomes and personal information of up to 100,000 volunteers in order to advance understanding of “genetic and environmental contributions to human traits and to improve our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness.”  In the first phase of the PGP, ten volunteers (the “First 10″ – see information about the First 10 here on my blog and at the PGP website) have had their DNA analyzed and have given their personal information.

Last month, George Church, the PGP’s principal investigator, reported that the project expected to publish data about the First 10 on its website in mid- to late October.  Church might have meant genotype (i.e. sequencing) information, since some information about phenotype, health history, and medication has already been posted on the PGP website.  There is information about each of the 10 participants, although there is currently no active link to their genetic information:

  1. George Church
  2. John Halamka
  3. Esther Dyson
  4. Misha Angrist
  5. Kirk M. Maxey
  6. Stan Lapidus
  7. Keith Batchelder
  8. Steven Pinker
  9. Rosalynn Gill
  10. James Sherley

Note that the First 10 are listed as “Participant #1″, “#2″, etc.  I debated about whether or not to attempt to identify them based on sex, ancestry, and date of birth, but since it was so simple to do that I decided to assign a name to the Participant number (I’m pretty sure I got them all right, depending on the quality of the source information I was able to find online).  Indeed, the PGP has clearly stated over and over that anonymity cannot be guaranteed for participants.  Additionally, I’ve always felt that one of the goals of the first phase of the PGP was to educate people about the effects of making your genomic sequencing information and health information freely available online.  Some would argue that the effects are completely or mostly dangerous, while others would argue that the effects are completely or mostly benign.  The PGP might help examine some of these questions.

There’s more information about the PGP in a recent Wired article.  HT: twitter from Jason Bobe of The Personal Genome.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007