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!

Interview with Honoree Mary Relling, PMWC Duke 2018 Luminary Honoree

Q: Why is preemptive pharmacogenetics testing important in the context of personalized medicine?

A: We estimated that pharmacogenetic test results can impact the use of nearly 100 drugs, accounting for up to 18% of current prescriptions. Therefore, having pharmacogenetic test results already “in hand” at the time of prescribing will be more convenient for patients and physicians compared to performing as needed, one gene-at-a-time testing, which will be slower and more expensive.

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Interview with Eric Perakslis from Datavant

Q: What need is Datavant addressing?

A: While the volume of health data grows precipitously year over year, our ability to make use of that data is not keeping pace. There are many aspects to the inherent challenges and opportunities of this data explosion but of particular concern is the increased fragmentation.

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All of Us Research Program Aims to Create Diverse Research Data Resource

In the age of big DNA data, it is important to remember that accumulating large amounts of data is not enough. Equally important is keeping the DNA data that participants provide as diverse as possible to allow us to generate answers to questions about how different variables impact people differently.

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Interview with Philip Parks from Exact Sciences Corporation

Q: What need is Exact Sciences Corporation addressing?

A: Exact Sciences’ mission is to improve patient outcomes through the early detection of cancer. We are especially focused on developing highly accurate, minimally invasive screening tests and technologies.

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Interview with Mike Nall from Biocept, Inc.

Q: What need is Biocept, Inc addressing?

A: Physicians are not receiving all the genomic information needed for precision medicine therapeutic decision making so some patients potentially miss out on targeted therapies that could save or extend their lives.

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Interview with Michael Pellini from Section 32

Q: How do you select startup companies you invest in? What are values you are looking for both in the companies and the leadership teams?

A: This answer is more of a philosophical one rather than a simple listing of ingredients, even though the latter might be easier or more reassuring for an entrepreneur to digest.

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Jeff Gordon, The “Father of the Microbiome” On The Promises and Challenges of the Microbiome in Precision Medicine

The microbiome significantly impacts human health, playing a crucial role in maintaining health and preventing disease. It influences endocrinology, physiology, and even neurology, altering the outcome of many different disease states, and it has been shown to augment drug responses and tolerance. In parallel to your normal microbiota, headlining pathogens are grabbing our attention, as we seem to face a major epidemic or viral outbreak of some sort each year, whether it is Zika, Ebola, or the Coronavirus MERS-CoV.

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Q&A with Jeff Balser, Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, President & CEO VUMC

Q: What is your vision for personalized care?

A: While the term “personalized care” has become popular contemporary with the maturation of genomic medicine, it is clear that the entire context of care – including social, behavioral, and environmental factors – drives the outcomes we are hoping to achieve.

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Q&A with All of Us Research Program Deputy Director Stephanie Devaney, Ph.D.

Q1a: You are the Deputy Director of the All of Us Research Program. What is your role as the deputy director and why is this initiative so important?

A: As deputy director, my primary role is to work closely with the All of Us Director Eric Dishman in guiding the program from concept to reality. Our vision is to enable a healthier future for all of us by building a data resource that scientists can use to speed up research and the development of individualized approaches to prevention and treatment.

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Interview with Honoree Jeffrey Gordon, PMWC 2018 Duke Luminary Honoree

Q: Why is the microbiome so important in the context of precision medicine?

A: We can’t ignore a part of our body that is composed of tens and tens of trillions cells, albeit microbial – a population that collectively contains at least two orders of magnitude more genes than in our Homo sapiens genome, endows us with attributes and capabilities that we have not had to evolve on our own, and contributes to our intra- and interpersonal biological variations as well as health status.

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Call to the Health Care Community to Execute on Next Steps for a Wider Adoption and Implementation of Precision Medicine

The recent Facebook data breach, genetic data sleuthing by the FBI that led to the Golden State Killer, and the soon-to-be-implemented European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), has put data privacy and security front and center.

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Data Privacy, the Security, And Ownership

The recent Facebook data breach, genetic data sleuthing by the FBI that led to the Golden State Killer, and the soon-to-be-implemented European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), has put data privacy and security front and center.

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Q&A with Jason Crites from IBM & Piers Nash from Health2047 Speaking at PMWC 2018 Michigan in June

Q: What need is IBM and Health2047 addressing in the healthcare/life sciences sector?

Jason (IBM): The industry is undergoing a significant transformation as reimbursement shifts from fee-for-service to value-based outcomes in the face of regulatory uncertainty.

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Dr. Francis Collins of NIH at June PMWC Michigan- Launch of Nationwide Participation Enrollment!

This past Sunday—May 6, 2018—the program reached a major milestone with the start of the nationwide participation enrollment! The All of Us Research Program, part of the Precision Medicine Initiative that was famously announced by President Barack Obama at the 2015 State of the Union address, aims to enroll a total of 1 million Americans.

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Meet Dr. Gil Omenn, Director of the University of Michigan Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics on June 6th at PMWC 2018 Michigan

Q: What are the objectives of the Human Proteome Project and what are some of the recent breakthrough discoveries?

The HUPO Human Proteome Project has two overarching goals: (1) to complete the protein parts list, with at least one protein product from each of the ~20,000 protein-coding genes along with sequence variants, splice variants, and post-translational modifications, with characterization of their functions;…

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University of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

  • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Precision Public Health
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • The Microbiome
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Resilience
    • AI and Machine Learning
    • Gene Editing
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Immunotherapy
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Neoantigens
    • Emerging Technologies In PM

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

    • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Precision Public Health
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • The Microbiome
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Resilience
      • AI and Machine Learning
      • Gene Editing
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources
        to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Immunotherapy
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy
        ctDNA, etc.
      • Neoantigens
      • Emerging Technologies In PM
  • Track 2- PMWC 2018 Duke Showcase, will enable 15-minute company presentations on latest novel technologies. Apply to present here.
big data diagnostics session

Clinical Dx Showcase

crispr showcase

Emerging Therapeutics Showcase

NGS Showcase

Genomic Profiling Showcase

AI Showcase Session Image

AI and Data Sciences Showcase

  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 500+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine

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