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23andMe Revisited

logobig.pngI get visitors from search engines nearly everyday looking for information about the startup business 23andMe. I’ve briefly mentioned 23andMe before, but I thought I’d see how much information I could gather doing a brief online search.

The website describes the venture:

“23andMe is an early stage startup developing tools and producing content to help people make sense of their genetic information. Our goal is to take advantage of new genotyping technologies and help consumers explore their genetics, informed by cutting edge science.

“Combining computer science, biology and informatics, we are at the cutting edge of a new era of genetics. Genome deciphering technologies have reached affordable levels, allowing consumer access. This information has the potential to empower both individuals and society in a way that will deliver tremendous value. For the individual, such information will provide personal insight into ancestry, genealogy and health. For society, the collection of genotypic and phenotypic information on a large scale will provide scientists with novel avenues for research.

“To accomplish these ambitious goals we are looking for talented, motivated individuals in many areas who have a passion for health and technology. We have an outstanding SAB and strong financial backers.”

23andMe is currently hiring a number of positions, which are visible on their hiring page and on sites such as Monster and Jobster. The Jobster listing has some interesting information in the description for an Operations Director:

“23andMe is seeking a detail-oriented, yet strategic operations visionary to structure and manage consumer-focused DNA processing, from saliva to data.

“Requires process-oriented, team-building, hands-on vendor alliance management, creative problem solving and excellent customer service skills. Equally important are strong negotiating techniques as well as cost analysis and budgetary aptitude. Exemplary communication proficiency is also key to succeeding in this cross-functional, highly adaptive work space.

“Experience in an operations role with a consumer goods company is highly desirable (ecommerce experience even better), experience in biology/genetics is NOT required.”

People at 23andMe:

1. Co-founder: Anne Wojcicki – From Reboot: Anne Wojcicki Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe in 2006 to enable individuals to get access to their genetic information. Prior to starting 23andMe, Anne spent 10 years investing in healthcare companies. She graduated with a BS in Biology from Yale and did molecular biology research at the National Institute of Health, Weizmann Institute, and UC San Diego.

2. Co-founder: Linda Avey, of which little is currently known.

3. Co-founder, Senior Advisor, and Board Member: Paul Cusenza – Paul Cusenza has described himself as having co-founded 23andMe in 2006 and is currently acting as a senior advisor and board member of the company. Prior to this Mr. Cusenza was the senior vice-president of Perlegen Sciences.

4. Product Manager: Brian Naughton. In 2006 Mr. Naughton received a Ph.D. in biomedical informatics from the Biomedical Informatics Training Program at Stanford. According to the program’s alumni page at Stanford, his interests include “Bioinformatics, SNP analysis, human genetics, sequence analysis, genomics, machine learning.”

5. Product Manager: Serge Saxonov. In 2006, Mr. Saxonov received a Ph.D. in biomedical informatics from the Biomedical Informatics Training Program at Stanford. According to the program’s alumni page at Stanford, his interests include “Bioinformatics: analysis of genomic sequences, analysis of protein structures, analysis of expression data.”

6. Scientific Advisor: Serafim Batzoglou. Serafim Batzoglou received a Ph.D. in 2000 in Computational Genomics, according to his C.V. (pdf).

7. Recruiting Manager: Oliver Ryan. Mr. Ryan has previously worked for Gap Inc. Direct.

23andMe in the news:

There has been some brief mention of 23andMe around the blogosphere:

- VentureBeat – Google-funded genetic start-up?

- Valleywag – Sergey Brin: Anne Wojcicki’s engagement present.

- alarm:clock – Is Sergey Financing Fiance’s Start-up?

- Pimm – Partial immortalization – 23andMe: the early bird of web based biotech startups.

- Martin Varsavsky – 23andMe, Know Thyself.

There you have it, a complete-as-possible review of 23andMe, as of April 2007. Please note, however, that this information is only as good as the source it comes from, and I do not guarantee any of these sources for accuracy. I will try to keep you updated whenever possible.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

24 Comments

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  3. A community annotation based model of reading about (and discussing) your genes, called SNPedia, is already online.

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