AMP update and Personal Genomics
admin Mon, 11/03/2008 - 03:00
As a part of the AMP meeting, researchers have the opportunity to present their work. The presentations can by either an talk or a poster session, or both. This year I am presenting my work at a poster session (I did last year as well). At the poster session, you hang your poster and stand next to it and answer questions from people that come by. The meeting publishes a brief description of each poster in the meeting book, so most people that come to see your poster have an interest. Well in addition to just the poster session, I also applied for the Young Investigator Award. As an applicant of the Young Investigator Award I had to send my finished poster in advance where it was judged before the meeting. This judging accounted for 40% of my score. Then while at the meeting, I had judges come and speak with me at my poster during the poster session. That accounted for 60% of the my score. I applied for the award, but did not really expect to win. Well.... I did win, and was named one of the 2008 AMP Young Investigator Awardees. I am pretty pumped about it.
One of the sessions that I was really excited about attending was the session on Personal Genomics. The session was an early bird session (7am....ouch...) and was supposed to have 2 companies represented, but only one showed. That company was 23andme.com. About 6 months ago, I looked into 23andme because their service provides some "DNA Genealogy" information, like Ancestry.com's DNA service and the service at familytreedna.com. In addition to the DNA Genealogy info that they provide, they also provide medical information. When I looked at them, the price of the kit/service was $1000.00. Not cheap, but it offered a lot of data.
Dr. Joanna Mountain spoke for 23andme, and gave a very interesting talk. 23andme is at the front of a new area, and as such is blazing new ground, in the process they have stirred up a little controversy. The talk focused on the 23andme's service, and their web-based interface. It is pretty obvious that they have taken a lot of time and effort to make the presentation of the data generated, as easy to digest as you can. 23andme tests around 500,000 different locations, when you submit your DNA, which is far more than any other company that I know of. Keep in mind that they are testing for both Ancestry and medical use.
The talk was given to a room full of MD's and PhD's who are all very knowledgable in Molecular testing. Several of the questions that were asked had to do with the fact that essentially, 23andme is offering genetic tests, which previously were only available with a Dr's order. Several people expressed concerns with a "lay" person interpreting medical results for what can be a very complex issue. Others asked about how 23andme was regulated by the FDA or other agencies. It was an interesting talk and lots of people had some very serious questions. Dr. Mountain was polite and handled the questioning well.
An important note, 23andme has lowered the fee for their service to $400.00 dollars. Dr. Mountain indicated that this was done to try to bring in more people, and increase the diversity of those who where using the service.