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This guy wants you to have a say in what happens to your DNA

LunaDNA’s Bob Kain has created a novel, fairer alternative model for genetic research in which its contributors get a voice.

This guy wants you to have a say in what happens to your DNA

Bob Kain did pioneering work for biotech giant Illumina that paved the way for a $250,000 DNA-­sequencing platform. When he left, in 2014, he wondered, once genomic mapping became affordable, how would doctors and scientists make good use of that info? Kain developed a novel health-data platform, called Luna­DNA, which allows patients to upload their anonymized genetic details to help researchers address some of the most pernicious human diseases. Unlike with Ancestry and 23andMe, people who upload genetic information (or their electronic health records) to LunaDNA can earn dividends from any commercial entity that uses their information for approved research. They can also elect to participate in individual studies. “Money is a short-term motivator,” says Kain. “What we can do is allow them not to feel like they’re being treated unfairly.” Since the SEC ruled in 2018 that health data can be used like currency, Kain has been able to grow LunaDNA’s audience. Last year, he signed a deal to merge his platform with the Genetic Alliance’s Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly, thereby accessing data from 45 organizations representing some 50,000 people suffering from specific diseases.

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About the author

Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company. She covers the intersection of health and technology.

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