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Innovator Showdown Winner

It’s Sunday morning in Salt Lake City and The Legal Genealogist is wiped out.

TapGenesIt’s the end of RootsTech week, and there isn’t much in genealogy that can wear you out more than trying to keep up with a mere 25,000 other people at the Salt Palace Convention Center for a week learning about what’s new.

This week offered me a whole new challenge as I was invited to be one of the finalist judges in the 2016 Innovator Showdown — a competition among developers for new apps, new software, new products to aid the genealogical community.

And today I want to introduce you to the Grand Prize winner of the Showdown — a Chicago start-up called TapGenes.

Now… before the genetic genealogy community gets too excited … this is not — at least not yet — a replacement for 23andMe or raw-data-plus-Promethease. Yes, it is designed to be a place where family health information can be correlated — but not yet fully integrated with DNA results.

Still, it’s an intriguing concept and it’s going to be very interesting to see where this newcomer ends up.

Here’s what the company has to say about how it works:

What is TapGenes?

TapGenes helps you crowdsource your family’s health information, helping you understand the thread that ties your family’s health together.

Discover your family’s health story

We’re referring to what makes you YOU…and how your entire family is connected.

Not just physical traits and natural abilities, but valuable health information to preserve for future generations.

TapGenes offers you the convenience of keeping all your family health history in one safe and secure place.

In our digital age, we think paper seems so antiquated. So we’ve excelled at creating an easy-to-understand Family Health Tree where all that ‘runs in your family’ is recorded.

And most importantly, preserved. Access this information whenever you need to – just think, your family history could be a mere tap away!

Invite the whole family…

Every family member who becomes part of your Family Health Tree gets an unparalleled Personal Health Portrait that can be accessed anywhere any time.

Be prepared for life’s unexpected moments.

Easily share health information with your family, doctor, school nurse, or babysitter.

What’s the best benefit you ask?

Having your family history on TapGenes not only allows you to safeguard it, but also share it if you choose.

After all, this is data that’s personal and private so know that you’re free to share the information with doctors, school nurses or caregivers or whoever you designate.1

The company website goes on to say that: “Our mission is to help you understand the unique and personal connection between your family’s health, lifestyle, and the surrounding environment.
We created TapGenes to provide you with the tools you need to be prepared for any situation and to help you use knowledge about your family’s health to live better and make more informed decisions when it comes to planning for the future (whether that’s starting a new family, deciding on a treatment pathway, or thinking about retirement).”2

Nobody who’s involved in genetic genealogy, and most genealogists overall, fails to understand the link between family history and disease. It’s been one of the driving factors in our community’s opposition to closing the Social Security Death Index — because so much mortality information that we need to trace family health issues can be tracked there.3

So collecting all that data, in one secure place, accessible to the whole family, is a great concept. And, while TapGenes says (correctly) that you don’t have to do DNA testing to learn about family health history, the company notes that “seeing what runs in your family and your personal risk factors may prompt you to want to learn more about whether genetic testing, and which one, might be right for you. We have resources to help you with that!”4

Just how the DNA integration will work, how the security will be handled… well, those are issues to be fully developed as this start-up gets more than just getting started.

But it really is an interesting concept, it fills a need, and it’s getting a boost from the genealogical community with the cash prize from the Innovator Showdown.

It’ll be fascinating to watch what happens.


  1. About Tapgenes and you,” TapGenes ( : accessed 7 Feb 2016).
  2. Ibid., “Mission Statement.”
  3. See e.g. Judy G. Russell, “SSDI: The art of the possible,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 4 Apr 2012 ( : accessed 7 Feb 2016).
  4. FAQ: About TapGenes,” TapGenes ( : accessed 7 Feb 2016).
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