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Facebook Joins ‘Genes for Good’ Ambitious Project on DNA Study on Disease Cure

Facebook has taken a new avatar with collaboration in an ambitious DNA study on genetic variations and their key role in health and disease among people.

The research project with “Genes for Good” scientists will screen 20,000 people with the help of an app on the social network Facebook to recruit the participants and conduct the study.

Gonçalo Abecasis is a professor of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan and the principal investigator of Genes for Good. (Photo: Genes for Good)

The new study is striving to find cure to numerous diseases that have been haunting the mankind and also establish a link between different DNAs and their health record and link it to the genes for a possible future cure to all of them.

The ‘Genes for Good’ researchers seek to collect the spit of the particiapants to record their DNA and the main research will be undertaken at the University of Michigan, which will keep the respondents in a loop for periodic surveys about their health status. With the help of their DNA samples, the laboratory will screen for information to link different genes for a common disease and also finda common cure.

Gonalo Abecasis, project head, said participants will be welcomed to join the study out of motivation to be part of the futuristic project that can answer the cure of human diseases. While the Facebook app will help access more people, it is also crucial to collect information from the participants on a regular basis and collect the information as a rightful entity quickly, he said.

Those interested to join the ambitious project should be 18 years or above, be a citizen of the USA and hold a Facebook account. Once the study is finished, all the participants will be informed about the results which will help their own record of health status, said the researchers.

Apart from him, other researchers in the project include Scott Vrieze, an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and external collaborator in the study. Before he moved to Boulder he was Co-Investigator at the University of Michigan.

Kevin (Wei) Li. a web developer, who holds a Master of Science degree in computer science and is responsible for almost everything the webpage and the Facebook App. Irene Felicetti with a Master of Liberal Sciences degree in women’s studies with minors in minority health and domestic violence, is an Administrative Assistant for Genes for Good.

Matt Zawistowski is a statistical and population geneticist, who is interested in what genes can tell us about ancestry and human history. Johanna Forster is Genes for Good study coordinator. She earned a PhD in molecular biology and had further training as Clinical Research Associate.

Lars Fritsche is a Research Investigator and Co-Investigator in the study with his expertise in Bioinformatics and Genetics to evaluate the role of genetic factors in complex diseases. Gregory Zajac is a Master’s degree student in Biostatistics at the University of Michigan and researches statistical methods to study the human genome.

In addition, Alejandro de la Vega from Colorado is a cognitive neuroscience PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder and another post-doc student Maia Frieser at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado Boulder will also be part of the team.



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