Scientists at the University of Michigan have turned towards social media as part of a large project aimed at discovering new links between certain genetic variants, health and disease.
The project titled 'Genes for Good' aims to screen the genes of at least 20,000 people and they have developed a Facebook app to recruit people.
The scientists hope that Facebook users will send a tube of their spit to a laboratory at the university and use a free Facebook app to fill out periodic surveys about their health, habits and moods.
The scientists will screen the volunteers' DNA to try to discover new links between certain genetic variants, health and disease. To rigorously establish these links, the researchers will need to enlist tens of thousands of volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Gonalo Abecasis, project leader, said that 'Genes for Good' could go viral if it taps into the public's philanthropic vein as did Facebook's organ donation status field, get out to vote campaigns and the Ice Bucket Challenge.