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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Jul 29, 2021

First, I want to mention that readers of Unsupervised Learning may hear the doorbell from Duke (from “Duke Tales”) mid-recording. While he usually visits me evenings, Duke made a special afternoon stop, perhaps thanks to the appearance of a Tesla in the driveway.

With that out of the way, I’m very excited to present this conversation with Linda Avey, the co-founder of 23andMe, and current CEO of Precisely. Most of you probably know about 23andMe, which helped create the idea of “direct-to-consumer” genomics in the 2000’s, along with the Genographic Project and Family Tree DNA. Linda was involved in 23andMe from the beginning, and she gives us some insight into their vision, as well as the specific products and offerings that they stumbled upon. For example, genealogical relative-matching was something of a lark, despite its now-massive impact.

But we also go back to her involvement in the Human Genome Project, the early days of sequencing, and her roots in western South Dakota. Linda also candidly assesses where direct-to-consumer genomics is today, and how she evaluates its impact in comparison to her expectations in the 2000’s. Finally, we talk about the future directions with her current company, and how we can make Americans healthier.