Other Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology
Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology
This month, PLoS Genetics is publishing an article from the company 23andMe reporting the first genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on multiple traits ascertained by self-reported information provided through the Internet from over 10,000 participants who pay the company for providing whole genome genotypes. The paper passed through scientific review by a panel of three experts relatively quickly and is sure to attract the attention of anyone with freckles, curly hair, or an aversion to asparagus. Novel associations are described for four intrinsically interesting traits (out of 22 considered), while known associations with hair and eye color are replicated in a dynamic data-gathering context. Additionally, intriguing observations on the interaction between genetic self-knowledge and self-report of phenotypes are described. The implications of the successful application of this Internet-enabled approach to GWAS research were considered to be more than sufficient to warrant publication in the journal.