When we launched this website back in June, I welcomed readers with a promise that Genomes Unzipped would “ultimately be much more than just a group blog”. Indeed, the last four months of blogging have really just been a prelude of sorts to what comes next: the real Genomes Unzipped.
Today we’re launching an exciting new phase of the project. Although we’re not entirely sure where this journey will take us, we’re looking forward to finding out – and to bringing you along with us.
What are we doing?
Over the last year, all the members of Genomes Unzipped have had genome scans performed by personal genomics company 23andMe; several of us have also had additional tests done by other genetic testing companies (Counsyl, deCODEme). From today, we’ll be making all of our raw genetic data and the reports generated from these tests freely available online. As the project proceeds, we aim to obtain data from an ever larger array of tests – ultimately extending to whole-genome sequencing – and release it openly. Right now you can freely download the 23andMe data from everyone in the project from this website.
Over the next few weeks, each of the members will be writing about their own experiences with genetic testing, and what they’ve learnt from their own genetic data. We’ll be discussing analyses we’ve performed on our own raw data, using software written both by group members and other collaborators; and we’ll be releasing the code for that software in our new code repository. We’ll also be talking about the process of deciding to release our genetic data publicly, and how we discussed this decision with our families.
To make it easier for us (and you) to explore our genomes, we have assembled a custom genome browser using JBrowse – this provides a visual interface that allows our 23andMe (and later, complete sequence) data to be viewed in the context of genes and other features. It’s still in prototype form, but we’ll be refining it and adding more data as the project proceeds.
Why are we doing this?
When I first started thinking about a new group blog back in late 2009, the idea was fairly simple: put together a group of people who were experts in fields related to personal genomics, help them get access to their own genetic data, and create a platform for them to talk about what they found. I quickly joined forces with Luke and we refined the idea further.
As we discussed the notion of a group of experts analysing their own genomes, one thing rapidly became clear: for maximum public benefit the analyses had to be open and reproducible, and that meant making the underlying data public. In other words, for this to work, members of the group had to be ready to spill their genetic secrets to the world.
Continue reading ‘Our genomes, unzipped’