Speed Reads

Good idea alert

23andMe aims to make DNA research more diverse

Underrepresented communities already face disparities in health outcomes, but a lack of diverse genetic material available for research is said to be compounding the issue.

The DNA analysis service 23andMe wants to change that.

On Tuesday, 23andMe launched the Populations Collaborations Program, which will offer "financial and scientific support" to researchers from across the globe. The hope is that the program can bolster efforts to genetically profile people from places in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, 23andMe explained in a press release, which will in turn strengthen DNA analysis for those populations.

Participants in the collaboration program will answer demographic-related questions and spit into sample tubes, which will go to 23andMe for genetic profiling. The resulting data will be sent back to researchers in the underrepresented communities. 23andMe believes this will "support researchers who are working with understudied populations and thereby expand genomic studies to be more inclusive," the company wrote.

"Many populations around the world remain missing from genomic databases," said anthropology professor Brenna Henn, adding that 23andMe's initiative "provides an exciting new mechanism to improve our understanding of human history and genetic diversity." Read more at 23andMe.