Want To Get Your DNA Tested? There’s A Facebook App For That

genes for good

“Facebook” and “DNA” are two words you probably don’t want to hear in the same sentence. But an ambitious new research project, Genes for Good, has turned to the social network to collect genetic information.

The researchers heading up the project say that your information is safe with them — but not everyone’s on board.

Genes for Good participants will answer questions about their lifestyles and health histories using a Facebook app. The scientists hope to collect data from 20,000 people, which will be used for research on the role that genes play in disease, and the ways that genetic and environmental factors interact to create conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and schizophrenia.

Facebook’s powerful platform will allow the researchers to access a large, diverse group of people. Using social media, the researchers hope to sidestep some of the hurdles of traditional recruiting methods, which are often slow and expensive.

“There are really interesting questions that we can ask when we can study larger numbers of people,” Gonçalo Abecasis, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Michigan and the study’s lead investigator, told The Huffington Post.

Here’s how it works: Participants log on to the Facebook app to answer questions about their health history (including surveys measuring mental health, tobacco use and incidences of disease in their family) and also to track lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, stress, mood, sleep and alcohol consumption. Then, eligible participants will be mailed a saliva testing kit, which they will complete and return to a Michigan laboratory that will test their DNA.

Participants will see how their health information compares with others’ information, and they’ll also have their ancestry interpreted.

But they won’t be told if they’re at risk for a genetic disease. There are ethical issues involved with giving people bad —> Read More