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Anne Wojcicki on the benefits of crowd-sourcing science and DNA sequencing

Speaking at a Harvard event last night, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of personal-genetics company 23andMe, discussed the benefits of crowd-sourced science over the more conventional scientific research model. The Health Blog reports this afternoon:

In her talk… Wojcicki got more personal about why “I don’t want to bet (my health) on the people or system that is currently in place today. I want to learn from the crowd.”

Hoping to help a friend with a family history of pancreatic cancer, Wojcicki asked 23andMe researchers to send out a cancer family history survey to people in the database with gene mutations known to be associated with cancer. She wanted to know if they or anyone in their families had cancer, and to combine the answers with their genetic data. The researchers will then determine if there are any genetic associations that eventually might lead to potential new therapies.

She got over 12,000 responses in 36 hours and the data is still being analyzed. “Being able to do research in a real-time way is the way research needs to be done in the future,’’ she told the crowd.

She continued to say that while not every scientific question can be answered by crowd sourcing, the approach could be particularly useful in studying health prevention or rare diseases. Wojcicki is scheduled to speak at the Medicine X conference at Stanford in September.

More news about Stanford Medicine X is available in the Medicine X category.

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