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NPR explores the pros and cons of scientists sequencing their own genes

NPR explores the pros and cons of scientists sequencing their own genes

As you may recall reading about, Stanford geneticist Michael Snyder, PhD, collected and analyzed billions of individual bits of data about his own body, and unexpectedly tracked the onset of type-2 diabetes. Snyder recently discussed his work and answered questions on gene sequencing and personalized medicine in an installment of Ask Stanford Med, and this morning he was featured in an NPR segment that examined the upsides and downsides of scientists sequencing their own genes.

Here, Snyder talks about being puzzled when he learned he was predisposed to diabetes:

“The person doing the test said, ‘There’s no way you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think so, either. But my genome says there’s something interesting about my glucose metabolism, so I think we should do this test,’ ” Snyder said.

So everyone was stunned when his blood sugar started rising — and then kept rising. Within months, it spiked. They had literally watched him become a diabetic in real time.

“So in fact, my genome, then, did predict I was at risk for a disease, which, by following the various markers for that disease, I did discover I did get,” Snyder said.

Snyder jumped on it. He completely transformed his diet and kicked up his exercise. After about six months, his blood sugar gradually fell back to normal.

“That’s the power of genomics, is to help you catch things as early as possible. So, some people might say that actually, my genome saved my life,” he said.

The full piece, which also features James Watson, PhD, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the structure of DNA, is worth a listen. He was also one of the first people to have his entire genome sequenced.

Previously: Ask Stanford Med: Genetics chair answers questions on gene sequencing and personalized medicineHow genome testing can help guide preventative medicine and ‘Omics’ profiling coming soon to a doctor’s office near you?

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