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Helix hires a new CEO in its quest to bring genomics to the masses

Imagine a world where DNA-sequencing is mainstream. Your genetic information is stored in a database, and pay a small fee to a brand to access it every time you’re curious about a food sensitivity, or to find out if you’re allergic to a new medication. 

That’s the vision of Illumina spinout Helix, which today announced a new CEO after a months-long search. The startup has hired Robin Thurston, the founder of Under Armour-owned MapMyFitness. By phone, Thurston tells me he was excited by the prospect of opening up access to genetics. “In my experience, the user experience of genetics is not good,” he says. 

Thurston doesn’t have a scientific background, but he has built a successful developer platform. That is valuable experience, as Helix will interface with consumers through its brand partners (unlike, say, a 23andMe). Helix also revealed today that is has built a next-generation sequencing lab in San Diego. Thurston says the team has yet to determine when Helix will formally launch. CF