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Open Humans Network Wins Knight News Challenge: Health Award

January 14, 2014

We at are thrilled to announce that our Open Humans Network was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge: Health. The winners were announced at the Clinton Foundation Health Matters Conference on January 14, 2014 in La Quinta, CA.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is the leading funder of journalism and media innovation. It has been seeking the next generation of innovations to inform and engage communities.


With its Knight News Challenge: Health, the Knight Foundation is funding breakthrough ideas that harness data and information for the health of communities. The five-stage competition began in August 2013 with an “Inspiration Phase” during which anyone could post needs, interests, and ideas online at its website, and continued with the submission of 630 health and data news projects, all competing for a share of $2.2 million in funding and support. After a feedback stage, 39 semi-finalists – the Open Humans Network among them—were invited to refine their projects and submit videos prior to judging. Seven winners were awarded grants.

The Open Humans Network, led by myself and Madeleine Ball of, attempts to break down health data silos through an online portal that will connect participants willing to share data about themselves publicly with researchers who are interested in using that public data and contributing their analyses and insight to it. The portal will showcase public health data and facilitate its exploration and download. The Open Humans Network ultimately hopes to revolutionize research by making it easy for anyone to participate in research projects and facilitating highly integrated, longitudinal health data. This portal will consist of three components: individual data profile pages, a public data explorer and a set of design guidelines for researchers seeking a collaborative data-sharing model.

The Open Humans Network grows out of the Personal Genome Project (PGP), a research study founded in 2005 that has pioneered open-access sharing of genomic and trait data.  Through our years of work on the PGP, we recognized the need to link together the people and data from many exciting open research efforts.

Current partners with the Open Humans Network include the Harvard Personal Genome Project (PI: George Church, Harvard Medical School), American Gut project (PI: Rob Knight, University of Colorado, Boulder), Flu Near You: GoViral Study (Rumi Chunara, Boston Children’s Hospital) and the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (Eric Schadt, Icahn Institute). By helping participants locate legitimate, open research projects and promoting data sharing, the Open Humans Network will allow any individual to make valuable contributions to science.

We believe that everyone benefits from a health research community that is more transparent, efficient, and equitable. Toward this end, we aim to reimagine health research and biodiscovery! Our sleeves are already rolled up, and we are tremendously excited to have the support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge to help us make our vision a reality.

For more information, visit us at:

Jason Bobe 

Executive Director

— 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

  1. Wendy Murphy permalink
    January 14, 2014 11:38 pm

    What do you know about Personal Exome Project?. They are looking for volunteers to provide Orogene swabs in connection with some study which seems to be centered in Germany? Orogene sent out a blog about them today looking for volunteers. Are they OK?

    Wendy Murphy
    PGP participant

    Sent from my iPad

  2. January 14, 2014 6:08 pm

    Good work, Jason. Charlene Grafton


    I submitted an idea about handedness, no one replied. Charlene

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