Nebula Genomics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nebula Genomics
Company typePrivate
Personal Genomics
FounderGeorge Church
Dennis Grishin
Kamal Obbad
ServicesGenetic testing
Whole-genome sequencing

Nebula Genomics is a personal genomics company based in San Francisco, California. It offers a whole-genome sequencing service.[1][2]


Nebula Genomics was co-founded in 2018 by George Church, geneticist at Harvard Medical School.[3][4] In August 2018, Nebula Genomics announced a seed funding round of $4.3 million led by Khosla Ventures.[5][6] In February 2020, Nebula Genomics began offering high-coverage whole-genome sequencing for $299 internationally.[7] The service also requires a subscription to Nebula Explore.[8]

On 11 August 2021, ProPhase Labs, a diversified medical science and technology company, announced the acquisition of Nebula Genomics by its recently formed subsidiary, ProPhase Precision Medicine, Inc., for about $14.6 million in a combination of ProPhase Labs common stock and cash.[9]

Privacy concerns[edit]

Relationship with BGI Group[edit]

BGI Group is a Chinese life sciences company that has been part of many controversies, especially regarding genetic data. One of these concerns one of the most popular prenatal test in the world, Reuters found out that it has been developed with the involvement of Chinese's army, People's Liberation Army (PLA), and has been used to collect genetic data from millions of women.[10] George Church, the co-founder of Nebula Genomics, has served on the BGI Group's scientific advisory board since 2007.[11] In 2017, BGI established the George Church Institute of Regenesis, a research collaboration between Church’s lab and about a dozen staffers at BGI in China. On 18 February 2020, Nebula Genomics has also announced that has partnered up with BGI: the saliva samples sent for decoding to Nebula Genomics are then sent by the company to BGI labs in Hong Kong for sequencing.[12] In 2022 Nebula Genomics stated in its FAQs that the samples are sequenced in Europe.[13] However, in 2023 no specific statement of sequencing location exists in the FAQs. Nebula Genomics said that this partnership is made to bring down the cost of whole-genome sequencing since normally it has a cost that makes it inaccessible to most people.[14]

Use by law enforcement and risk of data breaches[edit]

Nebula Genomics says that it is developing its own blockchain to enforce security and privacy but, despite that, re-identification of people starting from the genetic data could still be possible (DNA itself is a unique identifier), law enforcement could still issue search warrants or subpoena the data, and difficulties related to encrypting whole genomes mean that this technology could still be vulnerable to data breaches.[15][16] This is also stated in Nebula Genomics' Privacy Policy: "However, under certain circumstances your genetic information may be subject to processing pursuant to laws, regulations or judicial or governmental orders, warrants or subpoenas.[17] In other words, a lawful demand by public authorities may require we share your personal Information", they also state that: "We may share your personal data if we believe it is reasonably necessary to enforce the Nebula Terms and Conditions, protect the security and integrity of our Services, or protect the rights, safety, or property of Nebula, our employees or users". About data breaches risk it's written that: "While we cannot guarantee that loss, access or misuse of data will not occur, we use reasonable efforts to prevent these outcomes."[18]


Nebula Genomics develops technologies to enable controllable, transparent and secure genomic data sharing.[19] It is also developing approaches for privacy-preserving analysis of genomic datasets.[20][21]


In 2019, Nebula Genomics won the “Best-in-Show” award at the SXSW Pitch competition, part of the South by Southwest festival.[22]


  1. ^ "Startup Offers To Sequence Your Genome Free Of Charge, Then Let You Profit From It". Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  2. ^ Purdy, Chase (16 November 2018). "Everyday people can now map their genomes and maybe keep their privacy". Quartz. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  3. ^ Mullin, Emily. "This new company wants to sequence your genome and let you share it on a blockchain". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  4. ^ "In startup, George Church bets cryptocurrency will boost DNA sequencing". STAT. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  5. ^ "George Church's genetics on the blockchain startup just raised $4.3 million from Khosla". TechCrunch. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 2020-03-14.
  6. ^ "Nebula Genomics Raises $4.3M, Partners With Veritas". GenomeWeb. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  7. ^ Mullin, Emily (2020-02-20). "The Price of DNA Sequencing Dropped From $2.7 Billion to $300 in Less Than 20 Years". Medium. Retrieved 2020-03-14.
  8. ^ "The Price of DNA Sequencing". Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  9. ^ "ProPhase Labs Acquires Whole Genome Sequencing Company, Nebula Genomics". Benzinga. 2021-08-11. Archived from the original on 2022-02-18. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  10. ^ Needham, Kirsty; Baldwin, Clare (7 July 2021). "China's gene giant harvests data from millions of women". Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 July 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  11. ^ Whalen, Jeanne; Dwoskin, Elizabeth (2020-07-02). "California rejected Chinese company's push to help with coronavirus testing. Was that the right move?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  12. ^ Whalen, Jeanne; Dwoskin, Elizabeth (2020-07-02). "California rejected Chinese company's push to help with coronavirus testing. Was that the right move?". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2022-02-14. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  13. ^ "FAQs". Nebula Genomics. Archived from the original on 2022-05-23. Retrieved 2022-05-23. Where will my sample be sequenced? We sequence our samples in a laboratory in the European Union (EU).
  14. ^ "Nebula Genomics, Partnering with BGI, Sets Industry Standard by Offering 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing for $299". BioSpace. 2020-02-18. Archived from the original on 2022-01-18. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  15. ^ Weintraub, Karen (2018-11-17). "Genetics Start-Up Wants to Sequence People's Genomes for Free". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  16. ^ Molteni, Megan (2019-09-19). "You Can Soon Get Your DNA Sequenced Anonymously". Wired. Archived from the original on 2022-02-14. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  17. ^ "Política de Privacidade". (in Portuguese). 2024-02-13. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  18. ^ Quinn, Kevin (2019-11-21). "Privacy Policy". Nebula Genomics. Archived from the original on 2020-12-03. Retrieved 2022-02-14.
  19. ^ Grishin, Dennis; Obbad, Kamal; Church, George M. (2019). "Data privacy in the age of personal genomics". Nature Biotechnology. 37 (10): 1115–1117. doi:10.1038/s41587-019-0271-3. ISSN 1546-1696. PMID 31537915. S2CID 202687125.
  20. ^ Grishin, Dennis; Raisaro, Jean Louis; Troncoso-Pastoriza, Juan Ramón; Obbad, Kamal; Quinn, Kevin; Misbach, Mickaël; Gollhardt, Jared; Sa, Joao; Fellay, Jacques; Church, George M.; Hubaux, Jean-Pierre (2019-10-10). "Citizen-Centered, Auditable, and Privacy-Preserving Population Genomics". bioRxiv: 799999. doi:10.1101/799999.
  21. ^ "This Company Wants to Sequence Your Genome, Put It On a Blockchain—And Pay You For It". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  22. ^ "The Funded: Two Bay Area startups win SXSW Pitch competition". Retrieved 2020-03-14.

External links[edit]