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DNA.Land: A Digital Biobank Using A Massive Crowdsourcing Approach

By Jie Yuan, Assaf Gordon, Daniel Speyer, Richard Aufrichtig, Dina Zielinski, Joseph Pickrell, Yaniv Erlich

Posted 09 May 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/135715 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41588-017-0021-8)

Precision medicine necessitates large scale collections of genomes and phenomes. Despite decreases in the costs of genomic technologies, collecting these types of information at scale is still a daunting task that poses logistical challenges and requires consortium-scale resources. Here, we describe DNA.Land, a digital biobank to collect genome and phenomes with a fraction of the resources of traditional studies at the same scale. Our approach relies on crowd-sourcing data from the rapidly growing number of individuals that have access to their own genomic datasets through Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) companies. To recruit participants, we developed a series of automatic return-of-results features in DNA.Land that increase users' engagement while stratifying human subject research protection. So far, DNA.Land has collected over 43,000 genomes in 20 months of operation, orders of magnitude higher than previous digital attempts by academic groups. We report lessons learned in running a digital biobank, our technical framework, and our approach regarding ethical, legal, and social implications.

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