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Science AMA Series: We are Gonçalo Abecasis and Scott Vrieze, researchers leading Genes for Good, a large scale study of genes, health and behavior taking place on Facebook. Ask us and our team anything!
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Hello, Reddit! We are: Gonçalo Abecasis, professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan’s Center for Statistical Genetics (UM / CSG) Scott Vrieze, professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of Colorado’s Institute for Behavioral Genetics Chris Clark and Kevin Wei Li, web application programmers at UM / CSG Gregory Zajac and Katharine Brieger, graduate student research assistants at UM / CSG Ellen Schmidt and Anita Pandit, research area specialists at UM / CSG We use genetics to understand human health and disease and spend our lives analyzing genomic data and developing tools to make these analyses more informative. Tackling some of the big challenges in human genetics and genomics requires engaging 100,000s of volunteers and collecting rich information about their health, behavior and environment. Last year, we launched Genes for Good, a study of genes, health and behavior through a Facebook app. Volunteers complete health history surveys, daily health tracking surveys, and behavioral tasks. After providing a base level of information, we ship a free spit kit to participants to collect a DNA sample. Results, including summaries of survey results, raw genotypes and ancestry information, are freely shared with participants. To date, over 12,000 people have used our Facebook app, completing over 500,000 health history surveys and trackers. Data stripped of information such as names and addresses are shared with other scientists to ensure the information is used to the greatest extent possible to understand links between genes and health. Believe it or not, this is actually a relatively new way of approaching medical research! You can read more about the study on the Genes for Good informational website or join the study here. It’s free and all you need is a Facebook account! We’re here from at least 1pm-3pm EDT (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer questions about the study and about the future of genomic research in general! Ask us anything!