Monday , October 3 2022

Success in the genes? The sisters who succeed in business


If you've never worried that you or your family did not get enough in life, Anne Wojcicki and your two sisters will not make you feel better.

Anne, 45, is an executive director 23and me based in Silicon Valley, United States, appreciate in about US $ 2.500 millionsthrough Susan Wojcicki, 50, is the executive director of YouTube.

The third sister, Janet Wojcicki, 48, is a professor of Epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is collaborating in the fight against different diseases, from obesity to HIV.

You could say that there are no genes in that family, but Anne says that her individual achievements are a combination of luck and good education.

Open mind

"We were very fortunate to be raised by big dads that were open to us to communicate – my mother is a journalist – and technology – my dad is a particle physicist -", describes Anne in the series And Boss, or the BBC.

She says that her parents are urged to think freely. "I remember they've told me: Do not be afraid if someone does not agree with you& # 39; "

Although Anne believes that her education contributes more to her success in life or her genetic constitution, since 2006 he has 23andMe, a company that generates people genes.

The company, whose name is the number of chromosomes in normal human cells, allows people get data on their antiquity e information about y genetic risks for her health

These results are achieved through the 23andMe package, proof that can be done at home it only requires a sample of saliva.

How the idea was born

After growing up near Stanford University in San Francisco, where her father was a teacher, Anne crossed to the United States to study at Yale University in Connecticut.

After graduating from biology in 1996, he returned to California to work as a molecular biological researcher at the National Health Institute in the United States and then at the University of California in San Diego.

The idea of ​​23andMe started up when I realized that The US healthcare system is based on insurance, it did not focus enough on the prevention of illnesses, or on the poorest people in society.

"I started to see how financial incentives were encouraging the healthcare system to not take care of the most needed patients," said Anne.

After all, he added, industry professionals "do not make money preach, so I wanted to create something to improve the interests of ordinary people."

Anne says she later feels more supported by the appearance of Facebook, other forms of social networks and YouTube, which she says she gives to members of the public. a much stronger voice.

So in 2006 he created 23rd with Linda Avey and Paul Cusenza.

The product, which allows people to find out more about their heading – like, for example, where someone's DNA comes – it came popular at once.


But the company faced difficulties in relation to a probationary service on potential genetic medical risks.

23 and he fought over get regulatory approval for that kind of tests, in the face of concerns about their accuracy.

This led to a series of problems with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which led the company in 2013 for marketing and testing.

The FDA started to approve the 23andMe health service from 2015, and can now offer information on everything, of the risk of some types of cancer, the alzheimer, y Parkinson and disease celiac.

"That refusal (in 2013) was a challenge, and I realized that we focused on working to incorporate the long-term vision of the company that we had not set to provide the FDA with clinical validity and analytical. " explains Anne.

Although disputes with the FDA caused difficulties to the company, they did not encourage investors.

The exact figures are difficult to get because 23andMe is still a private company, but according to estimates, it has raised around US $ 790 million, which gives it a $ 2,500 million valuation.

One of the first investors was Google giant Internet, which invested US $ 3.9 million in 2007.

At the time, Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, was married to Anne. They divorced in 2015.


It is estimated that more than 5 million people in more than 50 countries buy and use the 23andMe test.

In addition to informing consumers of any potential genetic risk to health, The aim is to use the DNA data that it's collected – without identifiers to keep everything anonymous – to help create new medicines and treatments.

In order to achieve this aim, the company signed a 4 year research agreement and collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, the British giant in July.

Anne says, although tests can not perform miracles – she's jokes "you will not know the day you'll die" – they can "Talk about risk factors."

"Our life expectancy is this lovely interaction between what we said and how we live, our environment plays an important role in our health," he said.

Bradley Marin, a biomedical science professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee says Companies like 23andMe every time I'll be taken more seriously.

"(Initially) most services provided focused on learning about your own ancient features and heritage," he said.

"Over time, the focus has moved more towards find relativesand diagnostic services, what's changing the dynamics, making these companies less than new and more technology that has the potential to be harassment. "

From day to day, Anne says she likes to be the head of her 500 employees.

"Not only do I want to know the work they are doing, but also who they are."

Like her two sisters, Anne follows her mood.

"We all really enjoy our work and we feel we're contributing to the world."

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