#thedress, ethics for participant-lead research, research hack days

It’s been a little less than a year since we reached out to you. Right now our ± yearly newsletter is going out and there’s some things that might interest you as well: Since the last newsletter openSNP has grown in size quite drastically. Our database now holding over 1700 data sets! Thanks to everyone who made this possible! And today we have a couple of topics to present:


You might have followed the media buzz around #TheDress, the viral phenomenon that started around the end of February. It lead to one of the new big questions of our time: Is the dress black & blue or is it white & gold? Lots of scientific explanations have been put forward and of course, genetics has also been thrown in the mix in order to explain why people so vehemently disagree about it.  

23andMe recently started to investigate this question amongst their user base and thanks to Michael Whitehead you can now also contribute on openSNP. So if you want to participate in research about the genetics of #TheDress you can enter this phenotype.

Mike briefly spoke to us about his motivation to dive into the topic:

“We know that there are numerous elements of colour vision that are influenced by genetics. Red/green colour blindness is the most famous, but there are a variety of heritable colour-blindness phenotypes, as well as tetrachromats who can see a richer pallette of colours than the rest of us. It is therefore conceivable that variation in our perception of the dress is influenced by underlying variation in our genes.”

23andMe already has some first results in, but having an open data source for this would still be fun. So please, help us out. So far it looks like team blue/black is taking the lead.


The people running openresearchdata.ch are organising research hack days on June 5th & 6th at the ETH in Zurich and at the FORS in Lausanne. Participating in those days is free and genetic data will also play a role, with our own Bastian attending in Zurich. You can find more information on this on their websites.


Performing open, participant-lead research is not only exciting for the science that is done, but also for a whole lot of ethical questions it brings up. The workshop “Towards developing best practice for ethical participant-led health research” asked what a new social contract for such kind of research should include. The results of this workshops are now published as an open access article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.


Helge Rausch has kindly updated openSNP’s code base to Ruby on Rails 4.2, so you might experience some problems on the site, as this update was just done. As usual, if you encounter any problems, please send us a mail to info@opensnp.org or just reply to this mail.


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