News

European innovation grant to democratise DNA data

30 Apr 20

European innovation grant to democratise DNA data

Nuffield Fellow Melinda Mills has been awarded a European Research Council grant for her innovative new project to collect and ethically distribute DNA data to scientists.

Nuffield Professorial Fellow Melinda Mills has been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) to start a social enterprise business called DNA4Science, using her research for the ERC-funded project ‘CHRONO: Chronotype, health and family’.

DNA4Science will help solve the problem of the availability of genetic and digital data for scientific research. Currently the largest genetic and digital datasets are held commercially by ‘direct to consumer’ genetics and commercial companies. However, consumers can freely download and donate their own genetic data: DNA4Science will develop a sustainable process to collect and then ethically distribute donated genetic data to certified scientists.

On receiving the grant Melinda said:

“It’s very exciting. People have the right to access their own records...and if they donate to the project, it will unlock access to data desperately needed by a wider range of researchers. Through DNA4Science, we could see lower treatment costs and hasten drugs coming to market. It will be revolutionary.’

The ERC's Proof of Concept Grants are worth €150,000 each and are awarded to encourage grantees to explore the commercial or societal potential of their research. 55 projects were awarded a Grant in this, the first round of the 2020 grant. The grants are part of the EU’s research and innovations programme, Horizon2020.

The European Research Council was set up by the European Union in 2007 and is the premiere European funding organisation for innovative research.

For more information about the grants, see the European Research Council’s news story.