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The Personal Genome Project Canada: findings from whole genome sequences of the inaugural 56 participants [Research]


The Personal Genome Project Canada is a comprehensive public data resource that integrates whole genome sequencing data and health information. We describe genomic variation identified in the initial recruitment cohort of 56 volunteers.


Volunteers were screened for eligibility and provided informed consent for open data sharing. Using blood DNA, we performed whole genome sequencing and identified all possible classes of DNA variants. A genetic counsellor explained the implication of the results to each participant.


Whole genome sequencing of the first 56 participants identified 207 662 805 sequence variants and 27 494 copy number variations. We analyzed a prioritized disease-associated data set (n = 1606 variants) according to standardized guidelines, and interpreted 19 variants in 14 participants (25%) as having obvious health implications. Six of these variants (e.g., in BRCA1 or mosaic loss of an X chromosome) were pathogenic or likely pathogenic. Seven were risk factors for cancer, cardiovascular or neurobehavioural conditions. Four other variants — associated with cancer, cardiac or neurodegenerative phenotypes — remained of uncertain significance because of discrepancies among databases. We also identified a large structural chromosome aberration and a likely pathogenic mitochondrial variant. There were 172 recessive disease alleles (e.g., 5 individuals carried mutations for cystic fibrosis). Pharmacogenomics analyses revealed another 3.9 potentially relevant genotypes per individual.


Our analyses identified a spectrum of genetic variants with potential health impact in 25% of participants. When also considering recessive alleles and variants with potential pharmacologic relevance, all 56 participants had medically relevant findings. Although access is mostly limited to research, whole genome sequencing can provide specific and novel information with the potential of major impact for health care.