‘White-hat hacker’ Columbia University geneticist Yaniv Erlich maps his 13-million-person family tree

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
cc Erlich TimLee

Yaniv Erlich has been a white-hat hacker and a geneticist at Columbia University, and now he works for a genealogy company. This unusual career trajectory has led, most recently, to a 13-million-person family tree unveiled [March 1] in Science.

The massive trove of data comes from public profiles on the crowdsourced genealogy website Geni.com, and it sheds light on human longevity and dispersal over time.

Zhang: Your study is published now, but it seems like this is a beginning rather than an end. I’d imagine what you’re really interested in is overlaying genetic data on top of the family tree.

Erlich: Exactly. At MyHeritage, we started to offer DNA tests to users in November 2016. Since then we’ve collected 1.2 million DNA profiles of users.

We’re asking, did you have a heart attack? Are your parents suffering from Alzheimer’s?

What we show is you can ask users to ask about their first-degree relatives [parents, siblings, and children] and since you share half of their genome you lose half of the signal but you get so many people to answer the question that you get back to the power needed to implicate genetic variants.

[P]eople didn’t understand why I did this study. I got many questions: “Why even do something like that?” And then now, we’ve matured into this data-intensive world, it became very clear this is the right research to do.

Read full, original post: The ‘Genome Hacker’ Who Mapped a 13-Million-Person Family Tree

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

The U.S. averaged fewer than 40,000 new cases per day over the past week. That’s a 21% improvement over the ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists