Open Humans: Opening Soon

Researchers and participants, working together to create open data.

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Open Humans Network Wins Knight News Challenge: Health Award

We at are thrilled to announce that our Open Humans Network was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge: Health. The winners were announced at the Clinton Foundation Health Matters Conference on January 14, 2014 in La Quinta, CA.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is the leading funder of journalism and media innovation. It has been seeking the next generation of innovations to inform and engage communities.

With its Knight News Challenge: Health, the Knight Foundation is funding breakthrough ideas that harness data and information for the health of communities. The five-stage competition began in August 2013 with an “Inspiration Phase” during which anyone could post needs, interests, and ideas online at its website, and continued with the submission of 630 health and data news projects, all competing for a share of $2.2 million in funding and support. After a feedback stage, 39 semi-finalists – the Open Humans Network among them – were invited to refine their projects and submit videos prior to judging. Seven winners were awarded grants.

The Open Humans Network, led by myself and Madeleine Ball of, attempts to break down health data silos through an online portal that will connect participants willing to share data about themselves publicly with researchers who are interested in using that public data and contributing their analyses and insight to it. The portal will showcase public health data and facilitate its exploration and download. The Open Humans Network ultimately hopes to revolutionize research by making it easy for anyone to participate in research projects and facilitating highly integrated, longitudinal health data. This portal will consist of three components: individual data profile pages, a public data explorer and a set of design guidelines for researchers seeking a collaborative data-sharing model.

The Open Humans Network grows out of the Personal Genome Project (PGP), a research study founded in 2005 that has pioneered open-access sharing of genomic and trait data. Through our years of work on the PGP, we recognized the need to link together the people and data from many exciting open research efforts.

Current partners with the Open Humans Network include the Harvard Personal Genome Project (PI: George Church, Harvard Medical School), American Gut project (PI: Rob Knight, University of Colorado, Boulder), Flu Near You: GoViral Study (Rumi Chunara, Boston Children’s Hospital) and the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (Eric Schadt, Icahn Institute). By helping participants locate legitimate, open research projects and promoting data sharing, the Open Humans Network will allow any individual to make valuable contributions to science.

We believe that everyone benefits from a health research community that is more transparent, efficient, and equitable. Toward this end, we aim to reimagine health research and biodiscovery! Our sleeves are already rolled up, and we are tremendously excited to have the support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge to help us make our vision a reality.

For more information, visit us at:

Jason Bobe
Executive Director – 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

Now Hiring

Senior Software Engineer - Back-end Developer

As the Senior Software Engineer at you will work on the Open Humans Network, a project that aims to help people aggregate and share their health and trait data to advance scientific, educational and humanitarian causes.

Our model for this initiative is the work we’ve done on the Harvard Personal Genome Project (PGP), which has over 3,000 volunteers publicly sharing extensive biological and trait data, including hundreds of whole genomes, exomes, and genotyping data sets, over 1,000 health records, microbiome datasets from various bodily habitats, device data, brain imaging, etc. This combination of a highly informed and engaged community of volunteers and their contributions of extremely rich biological and health data, along with a network of collaboration-minded researchers, is an incredibly powerful scientific and educational resource that is unrivaled elsewhere. We will build on this momentum with this exciting new initiative that will transform participatory research and advance human health.

Our current hiring position is focusing on someone with back-end web development skills, as we have plans to work with a design firm for initial front-end work. Because we plan to develop open source software used by researchers, we believe Python (which many scientists use) is generally preferred.

We're looking for someone who...

  • Is interested in building and managing a full-stack website. As the Senior Software Engineer, your expertise will be an important factor in decisions about what kind of technology is used and how it’s deployed.
  • Has used multiple programming languages to build production systems (e.g. Python, JavaScript, Ruby).
  • Is experienced with back-end web development (e.g. Rails or Django).
  • Is comfortable managing Unix servers, cloud-based services and has opinions about how to store and disseminate large datasets (currently around 50TB total, although we would start with managing <10GB).
  • Works well in a small team of developers and scientists.
  • Loves science, participatory research, and free/open source ideals.
  • Believes in our mission!

About is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to generate, aggregate and interpret human biological and trait data on an unprecedented scale.'s mission is to make a wide spectrum of data about humans accessible to increase biological literacy and improve human health. Its efforts are informed by values encouraging greater transparency and collaboration between researchers and participants. The organization supports the Personal Genome Project (PGP) global network. The first PGP research study was founded at Harvard Medical School in 2005, and PGP sites now exist at leading institutions in four countries. We also produce the annual Genomes, Environments and Traits (GET) Conference. More information is available at

About Open Humans

We have years of practical experience, thousands of participants, and diverse data sets accrued. What we need now is an experienced developer to help us build a site for participants and researchers to manage and publicly share this data. Think of this as a nonprofit startup project!


We strongly prefer for the software engineer to be based in either Boston/Cambridge or New York City. We can be flexible on geography, with the right person. We collaborate with people all over the globe.

Your experience

In addition to your resume or CV, please feel free to share any open source projects, side projects, and development experiences you are proud of.


We offer a competitive salary, commensurate with experience.


Jason Bobe
Executive Director

Madeleine Price Ball

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