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Is Music Genius in Your DNA?

Challenge cross-disciplinary teams at Stanford to build a computer program that could create music from a visual representation (i.e., musical score) of a registrant’s DNA. Use the program to let people download their DNA masterpiece as an MP3 file. Or, find what musical genius’s symphony or pop song they most closely match. Create songs with their friends’ and family members’ DNA scores. Make ring tones. The possibilities are endless.

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Written by DeletedUser

THE PRODUCT: A program that would produce a music file from a visual representation of your DNA

There would be a website where you could click to “Make music with your DNA,” which would prompt you to register to receive a swab kit and learn more about the bone marrow registry. When you sent in your kit, experts would use a computer program to first visually map your DNA. The program would then convert that visual score into a piece of music. When that process was complete, you’d be emailed a notice saying that your DNA masterpiece was ready with a link that would take you back to the site where you could listen to your piece with a visual (bar-graph) score and download it as an MP3 file.

THE PROCESS: Create the technology by tapping into Stanford social capital and expand the impact

Not only does this OpenIDEO challenge come from the Stanford campus, but the university’s built up a reputation for collaborative inter-disciplinary thinking. I could see the potential to enlist faculty, staff, and students from the, computer science department, engineering school, music and art departments, folks from the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, etc. to include the challenge of creating this type of program in their curriculum. Professors could get students to form cross-departmental teams to come up with the most efficient and functional program. Have them test it out on peers beyond their team members, so that knowledge of the project and the issue of bone marrow registration spreads.

In addition (or alternately) have President Hennessy and Deans of related schools issue an open challenge/competition outside of the classroom. Again, encourage students to form inter-disciplinary teams and test out their product beyond their immediate team members. Offer high-level recognition for the winning team and maybe other incentives.

Builds campus cohesiveness and community
Exponentially multiplies the impact of individual Stanford students’ knowledge and creativity
Gets college students talking about the issue of bone marrow registry and enlisting their friends to join (so that they can serve as test subjects)
Sounds fun to me (pun intended)

Use the lure of additional capabilities to incentivize actual bone marrow donation and monetary donations. These extras could include:
-matching your DNA musical masterpiece with existing pieces of music by everyone from Chopin to Lady GaGa
-the ability to mix and match your DNA music with friends and family
-creating your own unique ring tone (this way if your phone goes off in a meeting, at least you can tell people that it’s because you donated to help people with cancer)
-having music stars make songs out of their DNA score (which could also create buzz around the issue)

Create an annual competition challenging students and the general public to create programs that creatively build on the original idea.

Make using one’s DNA score a part of the Stanford curriculum for music composition majors or anyone taking a music and technology class. Hold an annual open competition on campus for individual or groups of students mixing their scores and composing musical pieces from their DNA scores. Accompany with education; particularly disassociating donation with taking something permanently out of your bones.

Expand this competition to other campuses and then the general public. Everyone submitting would have to register in order to get their DNA score, but people could also invite others to register. The more people that one got to register, the more musical scores he would have to play with and mix.

Keeps the issue and the product current because people have an annual reminder
Allows awareness to expand beyond the Stanford campus
Has the potential to be sustained over time

Which barrier(s) does your concept address?

  • Fear
  • Misunderstanding

Which step(s) of the journey does your concept apply to?

  • Awareness
  • Registration
  • Donation
  • Spread the word

Evaluation results

10 evaluations so far

1. How easy is this concept to implement?

I could start right now. - 40%

This might take a bit of planning and probably some help from several partners. - 30%

This is a big undertaking and I'd need a lot of help from friends, organizations and other groups to make it happen. - 30%

2. Will this concept successfully reach and encourage under-represented populations (including South Asians) to join the bone marrow registry?

Yes, this concept will resonate with diverse groups of people from all over the world. - 20%

No, this concept might not reach under-represented populations very well. - 50%

I'm not sure, but I hope so! - 30%

3. How well does this concept dispel myths, ease fears, or provide education about bone marrow registration and donation?

Really well -- I already feel like I have a better understanding of the process and why it's important. - 20%

Okay, though it'll still take some explaining to get people to understand how bone marrow registration and donation work. - 20%

Not very well -- we'd have to create a highly detailed plan around this concept to help people understand. - 60%

4. How scalable is this concept?

This concept is highly scalable and could easily impact people all over the world. - 60%

This concept is really best suited for small groups and local areas. - 10%

This concept could be scaled, but we'd have to refine it for different settings. - 30%


Join the conversation:

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This is really cool idea. It totally reverses the risk:reward ratio that Emily Friedberg mentioned in Inspirations. I would love to see how my DNA looked when mapped to music. It would also be amazing to create some sort of database, like the Pandora Genome Project, that will allow users to listen to and download other donors and donees DNA compositions. Literally turning the basic building block of life into a work of art!

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Hello Joana,

I'll encourage you and your friends to download our iPhone App GeneGroove (free) which plays a music melody from genome data, not from pictures, yet. Data needs today to come from a 23andMe test, but GeneGroove next versions will be data agnostic.
Our Genomic Music sounds lounge, electro and house today but will move to other genres later.

We'd love to hear from you at Portable Genomics (creators of GeneGroove) and see how we can move this field forward. Cheers and congratulation for your work.

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