What’s The Answer? (Internet of DNA)

This week’s highlighted discussion tackles the “Internet of DNA”, a story I picked last week in my SNPpets post, which has bubbled up elsewhere. And Biostar folks look at the more technical implications of “A global network of millions of genomes….”

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

This week’s discussion comes as part of an interesting week on the personalized medicine front. A whole bunch of things are coming together–the US getting a Chief Data Scientist who talks about bioinformatics, The NEJM talking about training physicians to deal with medical genomics issues, and the “Internet of DNA” getting out into the popular science media realm. So have a look at what bioinformatics nerds made of this, and what their thoughts are:

Forum: A global network of millions of genomes could be medicine’s next great advance. | Beacon

Internet of DNA

A global network of millions of genomes could be medicine’s next great advance.

Availability: 1-2 years

Noah is a six-year-old suffering from a disorder without a name. This year, his physicians will begin sending his genetic information across the Internet to see if there’s anyone, anywhere, in the world like him.


Do you think this will happen within 2 years?


This is the technical implementation I think  that they are talking about:

The Beacon project is a project to test the willingness of international sites to share genetic data in the simplest of all technical contexts. It is defined as a simple public web service that any institution can implement as a service. The service is designed merely to accept a query of the form “Do you have any genomes with an ‘A’ at position 100,735 on chromosome 3″ (or similar data) and responds with one of “Yes” or “No.” A site offering this service is called a “beacon”.


So it just a federated query over multiple large genomics (+ phenotypes) data sets. Full genomes are not centralized, or moved, so privacy is less of a concern.


And please, contribute your own thoughts over there. We need to be having this discussion. Also, watch for more on this Beacon….