Meet Anne Wojcicki, the entrepreneur who wants to give us all access to our genetic info.
After the human genome sequence was successfully completed in 2003, there was a stampede to figure out how to use genes to mine personal health data. Among the first on the scene: Anne Wojcicki, a biologist with a degree from Yale and a background as a Wall Street health care investment analyst. Today she also has two kids, 4 and 6, with ex-husband and Google cofounder Sergey Brin.
When, in 2006, Wojcicki launched 23andMe (named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in cells) with fellow biologist Linda Avey, the team helped pioneer the use of personal health test kits. Send the company a little spit in a test tube and receive a detailed report that gauges your risk for more than 250 health conditions. At least you could do that, until the Food and Drug Administration ordered the company to stop marketing that part of its service in 2013—a setback that Wojcicki says she’s getting close to resolving. (She also just received the go-ahead to sell a test that consumers can use to find out if they carry a gene variant for Bloom syndrome, a rare disease that causes stunted growth and increases cancer risk in kids.) In the meantime, customers can still get ancestry reports—and the company has formed partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies to collaborate on research.