Saw this on Twitter, but I’ve talked to others who have brought up this issue:
It seems the logistic issues are the big problem. How do you validate phenotype? Tight-knit communities could probably work just based on trust, but then how do you scale up the sample size to detect loci of small effect? I think it will come, but I’m not sure when. Though obviously when it comes to disease phenotypes there’s going to be more motivation by interested parties. In the near future we’ll have pretty cheap full sequences, so one could probe differences within families to pick out possible mutations which might account for the variance you see across siblings. But would people really want to know why they’re smarter/stupider or better looking/uglier than their brother/sister? Isn’t the reality enough?
In light of my last post, I want to point to some groups attempting to create some “bottom-up” biological science in the real world. In the Los Angeles area you have SoCal DIY Bio, and in northern California you have BioCurious. And you also have the DIYgenomics website. Apparently the Gene Sequencer for the SoCal DIY Bio needs to be repaired, so I thought I’d pass word on. Unfortunately I do think it is possible that the government and interest groups can shut down direct-to-consumer genomics business in the United States by fiat. Business needs a legal institutional framework, so if that it is yanked away, it will whither and flee. But it is a different matter when it comes to bottom-up ad hoc civil society. Will the government threaten someone with fines and imprisonment for sequencing their own genome if they can get the resources privately? If so, this country is more screwed up than I would have thought….
Update: Also, GenSpace and Genorama.