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New York Genome Center to Host DNA.LAND User Group Meeting

August 10, 2016

The New York Genome Center (NYGC) will host the first DNA.Land User Group Meeting on September 16, 2016. DNA.Land is a nonprofit website developed by academic research scientists at NYGC to crowdsource genomic information. Within 24 hours of its launch in October 2015, 1,500 participants had signed up and contributed their DNA to the website. Currently, 26,000 people are active participants in DNA.Land, rendering DNA.Land one of the fastest growing crowdsourcing scientific projects. The September 16 event is open to all participants of DNA.Land, as well as to the public.

Developed by Yaniv Erlich, PhD, and Joseph Pickrell, PhD, Core Members and Assistant Investigators at NYGC and Assistant Professors at Columbia University, DNA.Land was designed to help users know more about their genome and heritage, while enabling them to donate their data to not-for-profit science. It was recently named one of the best genealogy websites by Family Tree Magazine. What distinguishes DNA.Land is the key role genomic researchers play in the website. DNA.Land connects existing data from three direct-to-consumer companies, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. To encourage users to join, the website identifies matches of the participants’ relatives, analyzes ancestry and provides the option to connect family trees to the website. Currently, 98 percent of the DNA.Land user group has found at least one relative matching, up to a fifth cousin, within the DNA.Land community.

The DNA.Land user group has contributed important feedback on many different aspects of the website, which has enabled NYGC scientists to strengthen their relative-matching algorithms, as well as improve the accuracy of their ancestry reports.

“DNA.Land is a truly unique research project, by encouraging an ongoing relationship with research subjects. It empowers them to give feedback and become active participants, and learn more about their own genomes while contributing to scientific research,” said Dr. Erlich.

Featured speakers at the September 16 event will include: Dr. Erlich, Dr. Pickrell and noted author and journalist A.J. Jacobs. Additional speakers include NYGC scientists and their collaborators, Dina Zielinksi, Itsik Pe’er, PhD, Sophie Zaajer, PhD and Jie Yuan; and Nathan Pearson, PhD. Speakers will educate users of DNA.Land on relevant topics:

  • Land, Where are We Going?
  • Sequence DNA in Your Kitchen
  • Ancestry and Medical Genetics
  • The Genetic Heritage of Ashkenazim
  • Bring Your Digital Persona to DNA.Land
  • “The user group meeting is a great way for participants to meet each other and share their stories, and for scientists at NYGC to talk about the important role their genomic data will play in advancing precision medicine,” noted Dr. Pickrell.

    Participation in DNA.Land is available at no cost to people who have received their genome data from 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. The website has instilled a true sense of community among its users who are located across the globe. One of the users in England created a Facebook page called DNA.Land Users Worldwide, which currently has 900 participants—all of whom have used DNA.Land as a tool to explore their own genealogy. This forum has provided a safe space for users to meaningfully discuss a whole spectrum of sensitive issues, and underscores the enormous interest people have in exploring their genealogy. To become a member of DNA.Land please visit this link.

    The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at NYGC, 101 Avenue of the Americas, between Grand and Watts Streets, in Manhattan. To view the DNA.Land User Group Meeting event program and to register, please visit this link.

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