Q: In a sentence, what is Luna DNA going to do?

A: We will empower and enable individuals to share their genomic information to help fight disease, accelerate medical research and discoveries, and driver smarter healthcare.

Q: There are very well regarded professionals involved with Luna DNA. Why did so many of you leave your prominent jobs to start this startup?

A: I can only use myself as a proxy, but I believe we all saw, from our different positions and perspectives, how powerful DNA technologies have become. And how there is a real bottleneck in the ability to get that fantastic potential all the way into the healthcare and real world under the current setup that R&D is working under.

We can now sequence genomes quickly, accurately and inexpensively. However, we lack a common platform for the research and clinical translation worlds to organize themselves so that every participant is relevant, including the individuals themselves who give access to their biological and lifestyle data. Every individual holds a valuable piece of the puzzle to understand disease and health, and researchers are all in need of more data. Discovery is hindered by putting the majority of data into small silos.

The research community as a whole is expected to deliver new insights as fast and efficiently as possible, and they are best served if they have access to the different data sets that are available.

Then we all started hearing about how the blockchain can be used to keep track of where data comes from, manage who should have access to data and when, and that we can reward people who make the effort to make their data available to the research community. From there, it was clear a great team had to build that quickly.

That led to realization that we – a team representing leaders in engineering, consumer marketing, economics and science – are the right group of people to take on this exciting challenge and responsibility.

After that, it was an exciting choice to give up our otherwise very nice jobs, to get back to your question.

Q: How does the Luna DNA business model work and what makes it unique?

A: Luna DNA is the first genomic and medical research database powered by the blockchain and owned by the community. We’re leveraging the convergence of personal DNA testing popularity and blockchain as a framework for managing complex exchanges and data networks in a manner that is private and secure, and can serve up participation incentives in the form of digital transactions and encrypted currency. We established as a Public Benefit Corp to execute in a community-driven framework for the greater good of society, while still focusing on value creation. Unlike others who are exploring monetization strategies for the data or samples they possess, Luna DNA has the benefit of designing fit-for-purpose leveraging blockchain for research value and equitable partnerships with participants, and will pull in data and then structure it towards the ultimate goal of discovery.

Ultimately we see ourselves as platform and an agent.

Specifically around the Blockchain, its emergence creates a low-friction way to incentivize and deliver value for data sharing and it also allows for private, decentralized ownership in a manner that community members can trust. Luna DNA is first-of-its-kind to converge the advances in genomic testing and cryptocurrency for a medical community-owned database.

Q: Can you give us an example of how people will benefit by joining the Luna DNA community?

A: Genomics has captured the imagination. Personalized medicine messages are now mainstream. We have pockets of excellent examples of genomics improving care and saving lives, but it’s not standard care for many reasons, such as lack of greater predictive power versus general probabilities of outcomes. We believe community engagement is necessary to achieve a research platform with greater scale, information scope and individual diversity to yield more actionable medical discoveries.

People now have an opportunity to personally fight disease by joining the Luna community. If someone has a disease, their samples, healthcare info, and data are extra valuable for researchers. Healthy or sick, we all can help the world by making it easier to do disease research. In addition, there is an extra motivation factor: the Blockchain will keep track of how much impact and value your participation has now and in the future on different research projects, so you can be rewarded for your efforts. Over half of Luna will be owned by its contributors.

Q: Can you give us an example of how it will benefit researchers to get data access from Luna DNA?

A: By breaking down data silos and bringing individuals together we will more quickly aggregate enough samples to rise above the complexity of genomics and identify disease candidates. As individuals are joining the community to drive discovery, we believe that individuals will be more forthcoming in terms of the health and medical data required by researchers.

Because we are pulling in data, we have the opportunity to structure it optimally such that we minimize the effects of different formats and technologies. This will allow more seamless collaboration between researchers since the same data treatment will yield more reproducible results.

Another opportunity is for Luna to broker permissioned contributor-researcher engagement for follow up questions and next layer research thesis development. At present, a researcher is pressed to know all the questions before beginning their research. Most of the time, the samples/data are disconnected from the donor due to old systems, ways and privacy concerns, so creating a wall solves the privacy issue but doesn’t facilitate richer research, even when people want to participate.

Reimaging research is not a new idea. We are excited to be building a platform to enable this and will partner with leaders in social, legal and ethical disciplines to ensure privacy and trust is paramount.

Q: Your high-profile Illumina role and your TEDx talk made you well known in the genomics industry, but would you mind telling us about yourself, where your personal motivations comes from, and why you think accelerating medical research is so important?

A: I love the intersection of science and business because I’m passionate about putting the technology to work to solve meaningful problems. I believe engagement with the community is the best way to drive rapid and long-term adoption of technology, especially innovation that impacts our personal lives, such as healthcare. Finally, for me, health is the greatest gift we can ask for so that we can live a rich life. I’m fortunate to bring all these motivators to work every day to drive discoveries for better health and quality of life. I believe we need a revolution, not evolution, to accelerate actionable insights from research to drive a true era of precision medicine and ultimately healthier lives from which everyone can benefit.

My TEDx talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3SLHhWYxiY) was an honor and part of the growing discourse we’re sparking around genomics and community-driven discovery.

Q: Tell us about the other team members of Luna DNA?

A: Luna has a compelling cross disciplinary team of experienced leaders in engineering, science, economics and large scale consumer platforms.

This includes Luna DNA CEO and co-founder Bob Kain (former chief engineering officer, Illumina); co-founder David Lewis (life science, equity and credit investor; former director at CitiGroup); co-founder Dan Lin (Redemption Games CTO; Y Combinator alumni); co-founder Michael Witz (cryptocurrency investor; Redemption Games CEO and founder; Y Combinator alumni); and myself as co-founder and president. Additionally, Dr. Scott Kahn, former chief information officer at Illumina, is Luna DNA’s chief information officer.

Luna DNA’s distinguished advisory board includes Dr. David Barker, former vice president and chief scientific officer of Illumina; Dr. Carlos Bustamante, principal investigator and professor of biomedical data science and genetics at Stanford University; Dr. Francisco Garcia, currently the vice president of development at Illumina; Dr. Scott Kahn; Dr. Aristides A.N. Patrinos, member of the Kavli HUMAN Project’s board of advisors and former deputy director for research at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress; Ashley Van Zeeland, chief technology officer at Human Longevity, Inc. and co-founder of Cypher Genomics; and Ed Yu, chairman of Vascular Cures and former partner at PwC Strategy&Healthcare Practice.

Q: Can you allude to how you are going to tackle this huge challenge of evolving how research is done today?

A: Researchers want new ways to ask and answer important questions, but they’ve been limited by traditional systems that have not been built for a new and much more connected world. We are fortunate to have research groups reaching out to us saying that if we can help them get access to the people they need data and samples from, then that will make a huge difference for them. We also have inbound interest from future contributors including many individuals and leaders of foundations ready to contribute information.

Q: How will you create the critical mass of data in the different disease areas?

A: Our approach is twofold. One strategy will be to reach out to the 10 million individuals who already have genomic data today, explain our mission and the immense value of discovering disease links, educate them on their role in discovery, and invite them into our community. The second parallel strategy will be to strategically partner with a few disease organizations and work together to achieve success in their specific study.

Casting a wide net will allow us to achieve critical mass in many areas over time, while at the same time working with chosen organizations will catalyze short term success in specific areas. Every success is a proof point to the value or our database, further accelerating member growth.

Q: What would you like people to do if they want to help fight disease and become part of the Luna DNA community?

A: Visit our website (www.lunadna.com) and join our newsletter so we can start a conversation!

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University of Michigan

The 14th Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) will take place at the University of Michigan on June 6-7, 2018. This conference coincides with University of Michigan’s launch of a new Precision Health research initiative that integrates U of M’s strengths in Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Public Health. (hyperlink) This initiative combines biomedical expertise, big data, and the social sciences enabling a comprehensive approach to providing patients with tailored health solutions.

To support the University of Michigan’s goal to bring together leading researchers from across the university and the country to springboard this new and exciting research initiative, PMWC and U-M have agreed that the campus is an optimal location for the next conference. This forum will showcase practical content that helps close the knowledge gap among different sectors, thereby catalyzing cross-functional fertilization and collaboration to benefit both University of Michigan and PMWC attendees.

The program will feature innovative technologies, and analyze the success of already thriving initiatives and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advances in precision medicine and cutting-edge strategies and solutions that are fundamentally changing how patients are treated. This is reflected in the Program Theme: “Big Data in Action: Data-driven Insights in the Clinic”.

Agenda highlights:

    • More than 35 sessions with 100+ thought-provoking, insightful talks that cover all facets of precision medicine
    • Two tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • Changing Pharmacogenomics
    • Community Setting Challenges
    • Patient Issues and Challenges
    • Legal and Ethical Issues
    • Integrating genomic data into EMRs
    • Emerging Technologies
    • Personalized Health Care Delivery
    • Personalized Modeling of Precision Health
    • NIH’s All of Us Study
    • Big Data in Action
    • Opioid Precision Health
    • Neurosciences
    • Big Data in the Clinic
    • Wellness and Aging
    • Epigenetics and Aging
    • Precision Cancer Therapy
    • Data Sharing in Translational Medicine
    • Economic and Socio-political Issues

The 14th Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) will take place at the University of Michigan on June 6-7, 2018. This conference coincides with University of Michigan’s launch of a new Precision Health research initiative that integrates U of M’s strengths in Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Public Health. (hyperlink) This initiative combines biomedical expertise, big data, and the social sciences enabling a comprehensive approach to providing patients with tailored health solutions.

To support the University of Michigan’s goal to bring together leading researchers from across the university and the country to springboard this new and exciting research initiative, PMWC and U-M have agreed that the campus is an optimal location for the next conference. This forum will showcase practical content that helps close the knowledge gap among different sectors, thereby catalyzing cross-functional fertilization and collaboration to benefit both University of Michigan and PMWC attendees.

The program will feature innovative technologies, and analyze the success of already thriving initiatives and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advances in precision medicine and cutting-edge strategies and solutions that are fundamentally changing how patients are treated. This is reflected in the Program Theme: “Big Data in Action: Data-driven Insights in the Clinic”.

Agenda highlights:

    • More than 35 sessions with 100+ thought-provoking, insightful talks that cover all facets of precision medicine
    • Two tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
        • Changing Pharmacogenomics
        • Community Setting Challenges
        • Patient Issues and Challenges
        • Legal and Ethical Issues
        • Integrating genomic data into EMRs
        • Emerging Technologies
        • Personalized Health Care Delivery
        • Personalized Modeling of Precision Health
        • NIH’s All of Us Study
        • Big Data in Action
        • Opioid Precision Health
        • Neurosciences
        • Big Data in the Clinic
        • Wellness and Aging
        • Epigenetics and Aging
        • Precision Cancer Therapy
        • Data Sharing in Translational Medicine
        • Economic and Socio-political Issues

 

Confirmed thought leaders include:

Lee Hood

Lee Hood

Chief Science Officer, Providence Health

Eric Topol

Eric Topol

Chief Academic Officer, Scripps Health

Francis Collins

Francis Collins

Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Vicki L. Ellingrod

Vicki L. Ellingrod

Ass. Dir., Michigan Inst. for Clinical & Health Research

Goncalo Abecasis

Goncalo Abecasis

Chair, Department of Biostatistics, UM

Jeffrey Leiden

Jeffrey Leiden

Chairman, President and CEO, Vertex

Matthias Kretzler

Matthias Kretzler

Professor, Nephrology & Internal Medicine, UM

Arul Chinnaiyan

Arul Chinnaiyan

Professor of Pathology, Medical Institute, UM

David Ginsburg

David Ginsburg

Prof., Human Genetics; Investigator, UM

Steve Nelson

Steve Nelson

Chief Executive Officer, UnitedHealthcare

Gil Omenn

Gil Omenn

Dir., Comput. Med. & Bioinformatics Center, UM

Eric Lefkofsky

Eric Lefkofsky

Founder and CEO, Tempus

Steven Leeder

Steven Leeder

Dir., Clin. Pharmacology Children’s Mercy Hospital,(CMH)

Ariella Shikanov

Ariella Shikanov

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, UM

Lawrence Corey

Lawrence Corey

Presi. & Dir. Emeritus, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Cent.

Amir Dan Rubin

Amir Dan Rubin

President and CEO, One Medical

Isaac (Zac) Kohane

Isaac (Zac) Kohane

Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard University

Sachin Kheterpal

Sachin Kheterpal

Associate Professor, Anesthesiology, UM

Event Highlights

When
June 6, 2018 8:00am to June 7, 2018 5:00pm
Where
Ross School of Business
701 Tappan Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Cost
$749 by April 25th, 2018

Registration: PMWC Conferences

Michigan June 6-7, 2018

First PMWC In Midwest
2 Track Speaker Lineup
Access to the exhibition
Breakfast & lunch refreshments
Award Reception

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Click here or call (650)-961-8877 to contact the PMWC Team for Help or to ask about the academic rate.