The oracle of personal genomics

The Awl had a rather unoriginal piece up recently, Everything I Didn’t Learn From Taking A Personal Genome Test (this is part of a genre which will probably crest in the next few years, before widespread genotyping becomes common, demystifying the whole enterprise). Misha Angrist has a pretty levelheaded response. There are two things I would like to emphasize:

1) A non-trivial minority of people do receive actionable information from personal genomic results. By and large I am skeptical of individual risk prediction, and I communicate that skepticism to friends. But in one case a friend ended up with a large effect macular degeneration mutation. Before he had signed up for testing I told him to sleep through the risk prediction part. I don’t do that now. Chances are there won’t be any surprises. But some serious information will be received by 1 in 10 to 1 in 100.

2) The “recreational” part having to do with stuff like ancestry inference is actually pretty robust. You could, for example, market an analytic and visualization which shows how closely related you are to near relatives. This isn’t going to be earth-shattering, but I do think that there’s a lot more fun angles out there that are there for the taking. A more professional version of GEDmatch.

Source: Discover Magazine – Gene Expression