23andMe and Udacity Partner to Offer A Free Online Genetics Course

Discover yourself at 23andMe23andMe and Udacity today announced a new online course entitled “Tales from the Genome: Adventures in DNA, Identity, and Health,” a Massive Open Online Course (“MOOC”) directed at genetics.  According to the website, students will learn about “fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information.”  The class is labeled as being aimed at beginners.

Although not announced on the Udacity website, the course will be available beginning on September 30, 2013.

The “Tales from the Genome” class will be taught by Matthew Cook, Lauren Castellano, Joanna Mountain (of 23andMe), and Uta Francke (also of 23andMe).  For more information, see the press release at Market Watch (“23andMe and Udacity Launch Introductory Human Genetics Course“).

MOOCs are rapidly becoming a way to supplement your knowledge or take that class that you wish you’d been able to take in college.  They are typically condensed and not as detailed as a traditional university course, but allows thousands of students access to world-class professors and content.  Other MOOC platforms include Coursera and edX.

Are you planning to take the course?  Have you taken a MOOC before?

Blaine Bettinger

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


  1. I just completed my third MOOC and I’m signed up for the 23andme course. The first one I took through EdX, Introduction to Biology – The Secret of LIfe, was taught by Eric Lander of MIT. It was FANTASTIC and very challenging. Many weeks I spent 20-30 hours a week on it, but it was worth every minute. I learned so much. I followed it up with a coursera.org course on Epigenetics offered through the University of Melbourne, Australia. It also was fantastic, but I could not have done it without my previous course from MIT. I just completed a review course for people interested in taking a biology course also offered through coursera. I’m signed up for Useful Genetics (coursera) and one on Human Evolution that starts next week (EdX). There has been great diversity in difficulty and instructors, but I am obviously hooked. I’ve signed up for three other courses that start in the new year. I highly recommend that you try them out. Check out the one from 23andme. The instructors have great backgrounds.

    • Kathy – sounds like you are hooked! These all look like great courses. It’s an incredible opportunity for people to be able to attend these lectures with such great instructors.

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  3. Curious. I just paid for 2 tests to familytreedna. One for me and one for a man who ‘might’ be a first cousin. The purpose is to tell if we are related. I do not know who my father was, but have strong evidence that he was this man’s uncle.
    If we are related, then I would know who my father was. But after reading your comments, I wonder if I just wasted my money? Familytree assured me that this test could determine if we were related. Now i am not so sure. I would appreciate your comments. Thank you. N. Malison

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