This “footnotes” episode is an interview with Dr. Eurie Hong, Vice President of Genomics at Ancestry. This video explores how Ancestry is asking it’s DNA customers to answer a survey to help provide DNA data that might help contribute to solving the Covid 19 Pandemic. 

With the largest family history DNA database in the world, Ancestry feels they are uniquely positioned to help determine why some people are more seriously affected by the Coronavirus while others are mildly affected. Is there something in our genetic code that could help answer the question? Ancestry scientists are trying to figure that out.  

AncestryDNA®, with it’s over 16 million DNA members has the largest DNA database, but they need those members to help.  They are looking for AncestryDNA® members to opt-in and answer this very important survey.  

Regardless if you’ve been exposed to Covid 19 or not, they need as many DNA member samples as possible, to learn if there is a genetic pattern among different groups of the population.

Once the data is collected, not only are they conducting their own studies, but they’re making this data available for free to qualified researchers in the medical science industry.

In the first two weeks of their survey, they received over 250,000 AncestryDNA members answering the call to contribute their DNA to the study.

For those concerned about privacy, all identifying information is removed from the members DNA sample before being added to the study data set.

In order to participate in the survey, you must be a U.S. resident, 18 years of age or older, and be an existing AncestryDNA® customer.


  1. Answer the email that was sent to you with a link to take you there directly.


  1. Log into your Ancestry account.  Go to the DNA Tab at the top of the screen.  In the drop down menu select Personal Discoveries Project. Then choose the Covid-19 Survey.

For more information about the Personal Discoveries Project go here.

For more information about the Covid-19 Study go here

For more about the questions asked in the survey,  go here, scroll down to “Ready to get started?” and click on the Frequently Asked Questions.

To answer the Covid-19 Survey go here and choose “I’m interested in participating”

More about Eurie L. Hong, PhD – At AncestryDNA, Dr. Hong leads a multi-disciplinary team of scientists who leverage genomic data from 16+ million individuals, 100+ million pedigrees, and 20+ billions records to help individuals discover their family history and health journeys. 

Questions Asked During this Interview

1:09 Can you explain why Ancestry is doing this Covid 19 Survey? 

2:39 Ancestry has over 16 Million DNA customers. What are you hoping to glean from the Covid 19 Survey?

4:35 How has the response been to the Ancestry Covid 19 Survey?

5:20 So you’re making this data available to anyone working on the Covid 19 situation?

5:45 Survey Eligibility Requirements.

6:50 Personal information removed explained.

7:10 Process for research companies to use data.

7:37 If you have not been exposed to Covid 19, should you take the AncestryDNA Covid 19 study?

8:55 If a person doesn’t know if they’ve been exposed to Covid 19, what do you do with that kind of data?

9:38 Addressing the privacy issue.

9:50  If we’re consenting/ opt-in to this Covid 19 study, are we consenting to other studies as well?

10:50 Have any of the research companies jumped in asking for the data?

12:00 Have there been vaccines or treatments from other studies similar to this one that the medical industry has been able to benefit from?

13:30 Can anyone who has taken this AncestryDNA test can participate in the Covid 19 survey?

14:12 How do you  take the AncestryDNA Covid 19 survey?

15:00 Is there a link that we can go straight to the Covid 19 study?

15:14 When do you think the results will be available from the Ancestry Covid 19 study will be available?

16:06 Just to be clear, you’re collecting the data and removing the identifiers from it… Is Ancestry doing the Covid studies or are you just making it available for other scientists?

15:58 What’s your gut instinct? Are you seeing anything yet?

17:28 Off Topic Question… What really cool stuff are you seeing on the horizon for our family history research? Are we going to be able to recreate the features of our ancestors or what?

19:02 I know a lot of these health studies include questions about physical features, I’ve got to think that someday we might be able to get a sense of the hair color, eye color and other physical features of our great grandparents?

20:50 Is there anything else that you would like the Ancestry community to know?

21:50 What questions are covered in the Ancestry Covid 19 Survey?