Oct. 21, 2008 -- If you ever feared that someone might read your private journal, the Personal Genome Project is not for you.
This week, 10 academics and entrepreneurs kicked off the ambitious effort to bring the genetic information and medical histories of 100,000 people into the public domain.
While the first 10 participants' full genomes and histories are not yet openly available on the internet, they eventually will be, says George Church of Harvard Medical School, who leads the project.
He thinks unfettered access to data on genes and traits will spark a revolution in medicine that should benefit everyone. So far, a further 5000 people have joined the queue to be next, you can register here.
None of the 10 well-connected pioneers learned of any genetic bombshells, as nearly all associations between genes and ailments are statistical.
"I have some susceptibility to having irregular menstrual periods," joked linguist Steven Pinker, of Harvard University, who sees the project as a useful tool to link behavior with heredity.
Another participant, John Halamka, of Harvard Medical School, says his teenage daughter worried that potential boyfriends might Google her father's genome before asking her out.
Such privacy concerns will ebb as people become accustomed to a tide of personal genetic data, Church says.
The first 10 had the choice to withhold their genomes after seeing what secrets they held, but none opted out.
Stan Lapidus, CEO of Helicos BioSciences, a firm that develops gene sequencers says: "Keeping my financial information private to me is much more important than keeping my genetic information private."