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Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) Series

NHGRI's Cynthia Tifft and Bill Gahl participate in a Reddit AMA

NHGRI launched a Reddit Science "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) series to share our genomics expertise with the public through online question and answer sessions. Through AMAs, anyone with an internet connection can pick the brains of our scientists and other genomics experts in real time and learn more about advances in genomics research that are improving people's lives. 

What is a Reddit "Ask Me Anything"? 

A Reddit AMA is an opportunity for interesting individuals to field questions about anything - and everything! Questions submitted to the AMA are vote based. Reddit users vote on which questions they find most interesting and lively discussions take place in the comments sections. In this format, answers from our experts can be more fully explained and follow-up questions or comments may be addressed so that the community has a clearer understanding of the research being discussed. 

Past AMAs

NHGRI celebrates National DNA Day with a round-up of genomics experts on Reddit Science

MicrobesFriday, April 27, 2018
The Rob Dunn Lab
"The wonderful world of microbes"

Microbes live everywhere and are linked to everything we do. The Dunn Lab aims to tell the stories of the small microbes - whether on our bodies, in our bellies, under our beds or in our backyards - that humans interact with every day. The ecology and evolution of these microbes in our private places has barely been explored. This AMA describes tackling the unknown with the help of the public through citizen science research. Ask your questions about all things microbes!


Cell AtlasThursday, April 26, 2018
Human Cell Atlas Organizing Committee
"The Human Cell Atlas"

Cells are the most fundamental unit of life, yet we know surprisingly little about them. A complete understanding of human cells could give us a unique "ID card" for each cell type, a three-dimensional map of how cell types work together to form tissues, and provide insight into how changes in the map underlie health and disease. The Human Cell Atlas, a project spearheaded by Dr. Aviv Regev, seeks to create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells. Ask your questions about The Human Cell Atlas during this AMA!


Genetic CounselorWednesday, April 25, 2018
The National Society of Genetic Counselors
"Ask a genetic counselor"

Genetic counseling helps people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Genetic counseling integrates:

  • The interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
  • The education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research.
  • The counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition.

The National Society of Genetic Counselors is a resource for patients, prospective students and healthcare providers interested in learning more about genetic counseling and will be on hand to answer your questions during this AMA.

Ancient DNATuesday, April 24, 2018
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Conservation Genomics researchers Jesus Maldonado, Ph.D. and Nancy Rotzel McInerney, B.S.
"Ancient DNA and conservation genomics"

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Conservation Genomics works to understand and conserve biodiversity through application of genomics and genetics approaches. Scientists creatively apply genetic theory and methods to gain knowledge about the evolutionary and life histories of animals, to understand the importance of genetic variation to their survival, and to identify the methods needed to sustain them in human care and in the wild. During this AMA, ask your questions about using genomics and ancient DNA towards a better understanding of our natural world's past, present and future!

Personal DNAMonday, April 23, 2018
Representatives from Personal Genetics Companies
"Personal genetics and you"

Fifteen years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, we're now at a time when taking a detailed look at our genome can be sequenced as easily as ordering a kit online, spitting into a tube or swabbing the inside of the cheek and sending it off through the mail to a lab. Personal genetics companies are using these at-home, genetic-testing kits to help people access and understand their genome. The market for at-home genetic testing is ever-growing and can offer different aspects about what makes you, you! This AMA will answer your questions on what you can learn from your genome at home.

Francis CollinsFriday, April 20, 2018
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
"The future of precision medicine"
The former director of the NHGRI, Dr. Collins earned a reputation as a gene hunter at the University of Michigan and subsequently led the successful completion of the Human Genome Project 15 years ago. Now, in his current role as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Collins manages the NIH's efforts in building innovative enterprises, such as the All of Us Research Program. This AMA will focus on Dr. Collins' experiences during the Human Genome Project and how he envisions the future of precision medicine.


NIH researchers highlight virtual reality research on Reddit

Susan PerskyVirtual Reality (VR) is a rapidly expanding area in tech and gaming. Now it's also playing an important role in medicine and health, expanding opportunities for researchers, clinicians and patients. Simulated experience can reduce stress, help doctors practice surgical techniques or allow medical students a way to practice their bedside manner in virtual scenarios. On February 23, NHGRI hosted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with NIH researchers who use VR to study a host of research questions. Read our recap her

The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program

ELSI Reddit AMAOn Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, the National Institutes of Health held a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with experts from NHGRI's Ethical, Legal and Social Implications research program to discuss a variety of topics ranging from how diverse communities receive equitably the benefit of genomics, or how your genome can be used to discriminate against you and the protections to ensure that doesn't happen.


CRISPR Ask Me Anything hits Reddit's front page

Jennifer DoudnaNIH held a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) with Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D. and her research group, along with National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Centers for Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) program directors. They answered questions about her research, her new, NHGRI-funded Center for Genome Editing and Recording and the CEGS program. The CEGS program supports the formation of interdisciplinary research teams to develop innovative genomic research projects. Members of the media and public got answers to many of their questions, or follow along with the conversation during the Reddit AMA.

NHGRI talks diversity in genomics research for Reddit

Vence Bonham, Maggie Ginoza, Larry Brody, top left,and right, and NHGRI staff answer questions during NHGRI's Reddit AMA on Diversity.After recently publishing a perspective in Nature Reviews Genetics describing the challenges to achieving diversity in genomics research, NHGRI leadership held a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on December 1 to discuss the variety of ways in which participant diversity can expand the translation of research findings and the steps they're taking to ensure all populations are included. Here we recap the discussion and point you to the full discussion on Reddit.

Reddit "Ask Me Anything": The importance of knowing your family health history

Chris Marcum, Ph.D., left, Laura Koehly, Ph.D., center, and staff scientist and Jielu Lin, Ph.D., participate in a Reddit AMA on November 21, 2017.

On November 21, 2017, NHGRI's Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB) turned to a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) to answer questions about their work on family health history. AMA hosts were Laura Koehly, Ph.D., SBRB chief, Chris Marcum, Ph.D., a staff scientist, and Jielu Lin, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow. The team answered questions from how to change behaviors after learning disease risk through family health history, to understanding risk when family health history is unknown.

Reddit "Ask Me Anything": The NHGRI Dog Genome Project

Elaine Ostrander, Heidi Parker, Andrew Hogan and Dayna Dreger participate in Reddit AMA on November 2, 2017.On November 2, 2017, experts from The NHGRI Dog Genome Project turned to Reddit - a social news website and discussion forum - to answer questions from the Reddit community as part of an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). Dog genomes hold a wealth of information for understanding natural variation in dog populations, like body size or fur type, and for learning more about how the genomes of both dogs and humans contribute to health and disease.

The UDN joins forces with Reddit for an "AMA"

Drs. William Gahl and Cynthia Tifft answer questions about the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) for a Reddit AMA on March 3, 2017.On March 3, 2017, in honor of Rare Disease Day, experts from the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) turned to Reddit to answer questions from the Reddit community as part of an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). These rare disease experts have joined forces to solve the world's most challenging medical mysteries. Supported by the NIH Common Fund, UDN uses genome sequencing in the clinic, along with a network of experts, to provide answers for patients and families affected by mysterious conditions.

Reddit "Ask Me Anything": The ENCODE Project

Mike Pazin, Dan Gilchrist and Elise Feingold participate in Reddit Ask Me Anything! on February 9, 2017.NHGRI's ENCODE Project has spent 13 years building a catalog of all the functional elements in the human genome sequence, and making it available to scientists worldwide for the study of human health and disease. On February 9, 2017, ENCODE program directors in the Division of Genome Sciences at NHGRI, and ENCODE researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, turned to Reddit - a social news website and discussion forum - to answer questions from the Reddit community.


Last Updated: May 16, 2018