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What are you looking for in your genome, and how can we help you find it?

February 19, 2015

The following is a guest post from Alan and Priscilla Oppenheimer.

If you are enrolled in PGP Harvard, you probably received a recent email that mentioned a survey that we, the Alan & Priscilla Oppenheimer Foundation, are inviting you to take. We’d like to share more about who we are and why we’re inviting PGP Harvard participants to take this survey. Although this survey is limited to PGP Harvard participants, we invite others to keep reading. Big changes are ahead that will start affecting us all!

About our foundation

We are a small science-focused family foundation, started in 2007. We knew we were small, but we still wanted to think big. When we became aware of Dr. Church’s new Personal Genome Project, we realized that it provided a great opportunity for a foundation like ours to make a big difference. We felt quite privileged when Dr. Church and his team said we could work with them, helping out where we could.

A few of the areas in which we feel we have made a difference include:

  • prototyping the current sequencing effort by sponsoring one of the first genomes beyond the original PGP 10
  • creating the initial study guide which helped potential PGP participants learn about genomics and pass the entrance exam (a predecessor to the current one)
  • helping out with a number of aspects of the GET conferences
  • and, most recently, planning and putting together the current survey.

Our faith in the PGP in particular and personalized health in general has been validated through a number of recent developments, President Obama’s newly announced Precision Medicine initiative being the most visible. Also, as indicated in the recent email, it’s great to see that the PGP has been able to send out almost all submitted enrollee blood samples for sequencing, that the project has spread from Harvard to Canada, the UK, Austria, and beyond, and has spun off important related efforts such as Open Humans.

About our survey

As the cost of a complete human genome sequence falls towards the $1000 mark, and such sequencing begins to become commonplace, it’s now time to ask the gratifying but difficult question of “What’s next?”. For the foundation, the answer is related to understanding what our now-obtainable complete sequence means. Helping to address this question has always been an underlying goal of the PGP, but it is only with recent successes that we have been able to begin focusing on it.

The current survey is our attempt to understand the ways in which PGP enrollees (and by extension many others worldwide) want to try to learn about, explore and understand their genomes. With that data in hand we can then focus our limited resources on one or two key tools to aid in that exploration. If you’re enrolled in PGP, we’d thus very much appreciate your taking our 10-minute survey.

Thank you for your time and your interest in personal genomics.

Alan and Priscilla Oppenheimer
The Alan & Priscilla Oppenheimer Foundation


  1. Dave Taylor permalink
    February 28, 2015 12:32 am

    I clicked on “10-minute survey” and that page is gone.

    I’d be glad to complete your survey if you’d like to send it to me or send me a working link to it.


    Dave Taylor Member PGP

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