Golden day for 23andMe: Time’s 2008 Invention of the Year

This is a golden day for 23andMe despite all crisis worries:

Mountain View, CA (PRWEB) October 30, 2008 — TIME Magazine announced today that the Personal Genome Service™ from 23andMe, Inc. has been named 2008’s Invention of the Year. 23andMe was chosen as the year’s most significant invention for its exceptional work in making personal genomics accessible and affordable.

From the industrial point of view what are the components of success here besides the obviously good team:

- mission: big, Google-sized mission: revolution of health care by personal genetic information as the source of upcoming personalized medicine

- biotechnology: based on the highest available technology platforms in microarrays (Illumina) (watch out, next gen sequencing is in the corner!)

- capital investment and network effect: I can only repeat myself:  23andMe is probably the most well-connected and backed startup in the history of Silicon Valley.(photo: happy 23andMe founders and early customers)

- information technology the cool and user-friendly factor of the browser based service is really amazing (in the past couple of weeks I demonstrated it to a bunch of people and even those were able to catch the essence of the available information who are older, web-unsavvy)

- simplicity of service: you just spit 2ml into a tube and FedEx it

- most aggressive marketing strategy based largely on the network effect among the power elite of the USA (and consequently, the world)

From the consumer point of view let me tell you 1 personal example of the lifestyle effect of the service: Continue reading

HealthMap & data fusion: detailed Google Tech Talks intro

The Google Tech Talks channel on YouTube slowly but irresistibly became my private university in current tech trends. Here is a recent talk on the amazing HealthMap by its developers John Brownstein, Clark Freifeld, Mikaela Keller. According to the about page:

HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health.

HealthMap is a Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP application and relies on the following open products: Google Maps,GoogleMapAPI for PHP, xajax PHP AJAX library, Open Source Web Design

Even ugly handwriting can fit the informal nature of SciFoo

I had problems with my handwriting since elementary schools, or at least my teachers had continuous problems with it. Even during my university years I was asked sometimes to read out loud my essays, papers to them otherwise risking bad grades. Maybe it’s because I am a hidden right-handed using my left hand for writing or maybe I am just too impatient over the slow pace of handwriting (needless to say computers mostly solved this problem).

On this George Dyson photo here you can see the SciFoo schedule in progress and I think you can easily pick the one with the ugliest handwriting on Aging and Life Extension:

Sergey Brin, Gly2019Ser & a real chance against Parkinson disease/aging!

It was already known that amongst the Google top people Sergey Brin is the one who is most interested in pushing biotechnology and the biomedical sciences: in his Stanford years he was interested in biology courses according to The Google Story, he married Anne Wojcicki (who graduted from biology at Yale), Google invested $4.4 million into 23andMe the pioneering personal genomics company co-founded by Anne, then Google invested into 23andMe competitor Navigenics too.

Now Sergey Brin added another, serious and personal reason to think that he is really, personally committed to the quick progress in the biomedical sciences: in his new blog – already a bit of an Internet history – called Too he disclosed that using the 23andMe personal genetics service he figured out something worrying about his and his family’s risk of Parkinson disease (his mother and her aunt are being already diagnosed with PD):

“I learned something very important to me — I carry the G2019S mutation and when my mother checked her account, she saw she carries it too.
The exact implications of this are not entirely clear. Early studies tend to have small samples with various selection biases. Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson’s in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20% to 80% depending on the study and how you measure.

The G2019S mutation is actually the rs34637584 SNP and lies in the gene LRRK2 encoding leucine-rich repeat kinase on chromosome 12. The mutation affects the first codon of the gene and is a guanine (G)-to- adenine (A) substitution resulting known as a missense and  leads to a glycine – serine (hence the name) amino acid conversion in the protein product. Here is how the SNP position looks in the 23andMe browser using the sample family, the Mendels.

23andMe’s amazingly good corporate blog The Spittoon cited a recent article about the chances: Continue reading

The Google Chrome Experience on Mac OS X with CrossOver Chromium!

Following Matt Cutts’s tweet I am now writing my blog post using the CrossOver Chromium browser which is a Mac and Linux port of the open source Chromium web browser. Google Chrome (Windows-only so far) is built with open source code from Chromium that means I have now a functional Google Chrome clone under Leopard on my MacBook. This is almost the same experience just like 2 weeks ago. I can use the omnibox, the new home tab and the very clever tab arhictecture amongst others but first of all the browser is now more or less integrated into my customized OS X environment and that is a big advantage. There are of course, inconveniences like crashes and problems with the shortcuts due to the Windows – Mac crossover solutions (which can be modestly modified with Preferences).

Continue reading

Life extension people & session at SciFoo 2008, Googleplex!

Last year I was probably the only SciFoo Camper with an explicit life extension commitment. I suggested & held a session which was related a bit to partial immortalization but was rather about the systems biology perspective in general, illustrated with some examples. So throughout the terrific SciFoo Camp 2007 life extension as a conversation topic remained rather implicit (ok, close to zero) and there was not much room to discuss it in the lack of other fellow life extensionists.

In my opinion the whole point of unconferences is to form the good aggregate of people with a common interest & similar/complementer message to join forces in order to draw enough (intellectual) attention for their topic. In this context, an unconference is about topics at the first place, not just about people. Idea networking is as important as social networking.

And if something fits 100% with the idea of SciFoo it is life extension/aging just as handling terrantic scientific datasets, open science or climate change as all these topics are utterly complicated and quite urgent screaming for the attention of the smartest people.

So I emailed Timo Hannay, SciFoo organizer:

“One thing I’ve noticed is that it would be very good to organize a session on scientific life extension technologies and consequences, because the SciFoo people are ideal to see and discuss all angles of this really important topic.”

And… is a session suggestion for SciFoo Camp 2008: Continue reading