The African Genetics Project

We've had a great response to this study – we are no longer accepting new participants.

Thank you to all participants for helping others to uncover their African roots.

Want to stay in touch with us about future opportunities? Email us at: africaproject@23andMe.com

Join the African Genetics Project and help people across the world uncover their African roots.

See if you're eligible.

You can participate in the study if all four of your grandparents were born in the same African country or come from the same ethnic or tribal group within one of the following countries:

  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Guinea
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Liberia
  • Republic of Congo
  • Senegal
  • Sudan
  • Togo

Also, you must reside in the United States, have Internet access, read and write English fluently and be over 18 years old.

Questions? Email us.

Why your help is so important.

Because you understand where your family came from in Africa, you are uniquely positioned to help people of African ancestry better understand their family's roots.

By looking at your DNA, along with others from the same region in Africa, we can identify genetic similarities of people from that location. Then, we can tell others if they are also from the same country or tribal group. Our aim is to help people make new discoveries about their African identity by way of their DNA. We also expect to learn more about how people migrated within Africa over the last 5,000 years.

What you get by participating.

When you participate in this study, not only will you help others, but you'll also receive access to 65+ personalized genetic reports online from 23andMe about your ancestry, traits and health.

How it works. Saliva and a survey.

The study steps take a total of 20 minutes – all from home. We ask that you send in a saliva sample and complete a 15-minute survey about your family origins. No blood tests or trips to a testing site.

You control your data. All of your information is protected and secure.

A little bit about us.

23andMe was founded in 2006 to help people access, understand and benefit from the human genome. A part of our mission is to do research to better understand how DNA affects people's health and ancestry.

We have more than three million genotyped customers around the world.

A look back at our initiatives related to the genetics of Africans or African Americans.

  • JUL 2011

    We launched the Roots into the Future research initiative, enrolling more than 10,000 African Americans in an effort to better understand the connection between DNA and disease.

  • OCT 2012

    Published preliminary findings from the Roots into the Future research initiative. View the presentation.

  • NOV 2013

    We kicked off our African Ancestry Project, which recruited people with four grandparents from Sub-Saharan Africa. This was our first broad initiative to improve our knowledge of African genetic diversity.

  • DEC 2014

    We published the first ever genetic portrait of the United States, showing the complex mixture of African, Native American and European ancestry.

  • APR/MAY 2016

    We reached the milestone of 45,000 African Americans participating in 23andMe research. We received an NIH grant to help us develop a new analysis pipeline that may alleviate disparities in research.

  • OCT 2016

    NEW! We launched the African Genetics Project.

FAQs

Still have questions about the African Genetics Project and 23andMe? Here are a few of the things people frequently ask about.

Don't see your question here? Get in touch with us.

Still have questions about the African Genetics Project and 23andMe? Here are a few of the things people frequently ask about.

Don't see your question here? Get in touch with us .

We are conducting this study for two main reasons:

  1. To improve our ability to provide detailed ancestry results for 23andMe customers with some African origins.
  2. To contribute to the global understanding of how people historically migrated throughout Africa and from Africa to the rest of the world.

Being a research participant means that you will agree to contribute your genetic and family origins information for research purposes. There are other aspects to being a research participant; we have summarized the most important ones below. If you have more questions, please contact us at africaproject@23andme.com.

What will I be asked to do?

You will be asked to:

  1. Enroll and consent through the 23andMe website so you can contribute your genetic data and survey answers to the African Genetics Project.
  2. Respond to a short questionnaire to determine your eligibility to participate. This step is very important to ensure the integrity of the study.

If you are an eligible participant, you will:

  1. Receive and use a 23andMe® DNA kit to provide a DNA sample (from your saliva) and return it to 23andMe for genetic analysis. We will keep this saliva/DNA stored in our laboratory.
  2. Complete an online survey about your family origins. We may send email reminders during the study if you haven't finished the survey.

How will 23andMe use my data?

We will compare your genetic data and survey answers with the genetic data and survey answers of other research participants with ancestry from Africa. We are conducting this research in order to improve our service and contribute to scientific and historical understanding.

What are the risks of being a research participant?

  • Being a research participant means that 23andMe stores your genetic information and survey answers. If a security breach occurred, your data could be leaked. Please refer to How do you protect the confidentiality of my data? for more information about this risk.
  • 23andMe may share some data with external research partners and in scientific publications. These data will be summarized across enough customers to minimize the chance that your personal information will be exposed.
  • If you choose to access the health, traits and ancestry reports resulting from your use of the 23andMe Service, you may learn information about yourself that you do not anticipate (e.g., that you are not related to a family member in the way you thought, surprising facts related to your ancestry, or that you could pass on an inherited genetic condition to your children). Your 23andMe reports are not intended to diagnose a disease, or tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future. Please contact a qualified medical provider if you have any questions or concerns about the results contained in your reports.
  • Please refer to our Terms of Service for more details about the risks of being genotyped.

What are the benefits of being a research participant?

This is a new opportunity to participate in genetics research. As a research participant, you will:

  • Take a direct role in research that may lead to new knowledge about African populations
  • Participate in web-based research from the comfort of your own home
  • Have the option to learn more about yourself through genetics.

As part of your participation in this research study, you will receive a complimentary 23andMe saliva collection kit and the option to access the 23andMe Service. The 23andMe Service provides you with your unique personal genetic profile, including reports on your traits, wellness, carrier status*, and ancestry. Your 23andMe reports are not intended to diagnose a disease, or tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future. Please contact a qualified medical provider if you have any questions or concerns about the results contained in your reports.

*Our Carrier Status tests can be used to determine carrier status in adults from saliva collected using an FDA-cleared collection device (Oragene DX model OGD.500.001), but cannot determine if you have two copies of the genetic variant. Each test is most relevant for people of certain ethnicities. The tests are not intended to diagnose a disease, or tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future. On their own, carrier status tests are not intended to tell you anything about the health of your fetus, or your newborn child's risk of developing a particular disease later in life.

You can access your account indefinitely as long as you choose to keep it open and abide by the Terms of Service.

Your 23andMe account will continue to receive updates as long as the genetic information referenced in those updates is among the data generated by your original DNA sample. If a future feature or report relies on DNA results not included in your initial analysis, access to that feature or report would require upgrading to the next 23andMe genotyping platform. Any future upgrades involving a new 23andMe genotyping platform are not included as a benefit to your participation in this study.

To increase the chance that meaningful scientific discoveries are made, 23andMe may share anonymous, aggregate data with qualified research partners for this study and potentially for other studies in the future. This means you cannot be easily identified by others whom we partner with in the future (researchers, scientists, etc.).

The shared data will be stripped of identifying components (name, email, address, user ID and password). If 23andMe shares your genetic or self-reported data with a qualified research partner, this action cannot be undone and your data will not be returned to 23andMe. Please refer to our Privacy Statement to learn more about our practices.

23andMe may share anonymous, aggregate data with qualified research partners. This means you cannot be easily identified by others whom we may partner with in the future (researchers, scientists, etc.).

We built all of our systems to maximize the privacy and security of our research participants and we have a number of safeguards in place to ensure confidentiality. All data in the research computing environment are disconnected from your contact or identifying information and are coded with a unique research ID.

23andMe research scientists who have access to your sensitive data (i.e. DNA results, survey responses) do not have access to your account or contact information. Conversely, 23andMe project managers who have access to your contact information do not have access to your sensitive individual-level data. Thus, it would be extremely difficult for 23andMe employees or any external party to link your individually identifying information to your DNA results and survey response data.

Unfortunately, there are always unknown threats in information security. Therefore, we cannot fully guarantee the security of your data. However, we constantly update our security systems and protocols to deal with new threats as they become known. We protect against known factors by applying industry best practices in all of our information security procedures.

All 23andMe research is performed in a secure computing environment with access restricted to research scientists and system administrators. All 23andMe servers are protected by technical, physical, and administrative procedures. Our servers are monitored for unauthorized activity. Your genetic data and sensitive account information such as passwords are encrypted, as are all data transfers between our servers and your computer(s).

23andMe will also have agreements with all research partners regarding the security and storage of data that is shared outside 23andMe. Although 23andMe cannot provide a 100% guarantee that your data will be safe, 23andMe policies and procedures minimize the chance that a breach could take place.

By choosing to have 23andMe receive, analyze and store your saliva sample, you are consenting to having 23andMe and its contractors access, analyze and store your sample in a manner consistent with our Terms of Service, Privacy Statement and the Consent Document for Sample Storage and Additional Genetic Analyses.

We use a process called "genotyping" to generate genetic data from each participant's saliva. Genotyping is a process that determines which genetic variants an individual possesses at specific positions in their genome. We may perform additional analyses, including sequencing, which examines every position in either a portion or all of an individual's genome.

Our African Genetics Project includes an online survey about your family's cultural or geographic origins. As more people join the study and our research scientists start to look at the data, there may be an opportunity to participate in additional studies or surveys to enhance the research.

If there are any additional study or survey opportunities, we will let you know about them via regular updates through your 23andMe.com account and/or email.

If you agree to participate in the African Genetics Project, your participation includes the use of a 23andMe DNA kit and optional access to the 23andMe Service at no cost. As part of registering this 23andMe kit you will be required to agree to the 23andMe Terms of Service document.

We want to make sure you understand that while participating in the study activities described below, the following sections of the Terms of Service will not apply to the extent they prevent you from pursuing a claim if you suffer a research-related injury:

  • Section 14 ("Indemnity")
  • Section 23 ("Disclaimer of Warranties"), Subsections (1), (3), (4), and (5)
  • Section 24 ("Limitation of Liability")
  • Section 28(d) ("Term for cause of action")

Study activities include:

  1. Providing a saliva sample for genetic analysis using a 23andMe DNA kit.
  2. Completing the Family Origins survey on the 23andMe website.

Please note, however, that if you choose to use any of 23andMe's products, software, services, and website, outside of your participation in these study activities, you will be, just like all users of 23andMe's products, software, services, and website, subject to the 23andMe Terms of Service.

If you decide to enroll in the African Genetics Project, you will be asked to review and accept the 23andMe Research Consent document. In addition to ancestry, this consent document covers research related to human health, traits, diseases, drug response, and related genetics research.

Research participation consists of entering data about yourself into 23andMe Research features on the 23andMe website. These features include surveys, Quick Questions, and other features where you enter information. You choose which survey(s) or question(s) you want to answer. If you do not feel comfortable providing a piece of information, you may choose not to answer that question.

We want you to understand that if you accept the 23andMe Research Consent document, your genetic data and any information about yourself that you enter through 23andMe Research features (surveys, individual question, etc.) can be used for research as defined in that 23andMe Consent Document.

23andMe Research is open-ended: new surveys and features may be added on a continuing basis. If new surveys or features are added, you may receive an email update or see an announcement when you sign in to your account. We might invite you to participate in a specific study if your Genetic & Self-Reported Information matches the area of interest.

Your participation in 23andMe Research is completely voluntary. You may opt-out of research at any time.

Genotyping Resources

Before you enroll, we recommend exploring these resources: