On a recent episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode sat down with the CEO of genetic testing company 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki. Her 11-year-old startup sells DNA testing kits that reveal a person’s genetic history and possible predispositions to certain diseases. The three answered questions on data privacy, Kara’s predisposition to be bad at basketball and the future of scientific inquiry.
You can read some of the highlights from their discussion here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode.
Lauren Goode: I’m Lauren Goode, senior technology editor at The Verge.
KS: You’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media Podcast Network. This is a show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech.
LG: It could be anything, like whether Kara really is like this all the time or this is just an act.
KS: I’m really like this all the time.
LG: Or whether Face ID on your new iPhone is going to work when you have your sunglasses on.
KS: They are, as Steve Dowling has assured me.
LG: Well, send us your questions.
KS: Find us on Twitter or tweet them to @recode or to myself or Lauren or with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed.
LG: We also have an email address. It’s TooEmbarrassed@recode.net, and a friendly reminder, Kara’s password is 1234. Too Embarrassed, it has two Rs and two Ss, so be sure to ...
KS: Thank you for revealing my secret password.
LG: ... break into her account. You can also find her Equifax credit score there too. Oh wait, they did that for everybody.
We’ve been on a real health kick at Too Embarrassed to Ask lately. We’ve talked about replacing red meat with engineered meat. We talked about drugs that supposedly can make you smarter, and we’ve talked about the doctor’s office of the future, even though it’s only currently available to wealthy people in San Francisco.
LG: Today we’re talking about ...
KS: We are healthy.
LG: We walk up hills.
LG: Today we’re talking about DNA.
KS: DNA, yes. We’re delighted to have someone who’s been on Recode Decode already, Anne Wojcicki. She’s the CEO of 23andMe, and we have a lot of new stuff to talk about since then, including a giant funding. Anne, welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask.
Anne Wojcicki: Thank you.
KS: Get us up to speed on how 23andMe is doing. How long has it been around?
Eleven-and-a-half years now.
KS: Right. We had you onstage at All Things D.
KS: Sent my DNA to Rupert Murdoch.
It was like a 2009 launch of our research.
KS: He’s not my father, apparently.
LG: Thank goodness for that.
KS: How many kits have you sold? How big is your database? Give us some statistics of what’s been going on.
We’ve said it’s over two million. We have over half a billion data points on all of our customers now where they self-report data about themselves. Tons of information, and I think that there’s a real critical mass of people who want to do 23andMe and learn about their genetics, and that people are really motivated and interested in participating in research.
KS: Money raised? You just did that.
Yeah, we just raised $250 million.
KS: That’s a lot of money.
Yeah. That’s a lot.
LG: You’ve raised $200 million prior to that?
We raised about $200 million prior to that.
KS: Who were the investors?
It was led by Sequoia. Fidelity participated. A new one, Euclidean also joined in. The Wallenburg Foundation from Sweden, who I used to work for, and Altimeter.
KS: Altimeter. What are you going to do with all this cash now?
That’s a great question.
KS: I’d like to know.
I think we didn’t need the money right now, and so in some ways it was a great time, but the thing that excites me is that I see the potential. People really want their DNA, and I also see the engagement of our customers is phenomenal. At least over 40 percent of customers are coming back on a quarterly basis. We have spectacular numbers of people who are coming back, which to me just begs that they want to do more. I think for me this is an opportunity. The mission of 23andMe is not just about genetics. We have research, and again, all of that which is already a big mission, but we really want to transform health care.
I think that there’s a huge opportunity for the consumer to have a voice. People want to engage. People want to learn about themselves. They want to be healthier. They want to know more what they can do. I feel like I now have this responsibility to tell you, “I told you you’re high risk for Alzheimer’s, you’re high risk for Parkinson’s, you’re high risk for a stroke. I told you really meaningful information about yourself. Now I need to help you execute on your life.” I think that’s where, when I think about the potential of raising this capital, it’s about we want to expand, and I think that there’s a real opportunity to think about an affordable consumer-centric health care system.
LG: In earlier interviews, you’ve talked about the challenges in just getting people to accept this idea, of sending in a saliva sample and having their DNA information live in a database somewhere. We’ve compared it to the early days of Amazon when people weren’t necessarily comfortable shopping online and now it’s this huge thing. Do you still see that as a challenge? And what do you have to do to get to that point where it’s Amazon-like where everyone just does it?
I think it’s still a challenge, but I see it breaking, and I think that’s to me ... The exciting point of right now is, I think that when you start to see the types of numbers and the types of volume that we’re getting, you see that there’s an opportunity for broad acceptance.
LG: Why is that?
I think we’re 11-and-a-half years old. In part, there’s a question of time and I think that there’s enough stories out there. I was sitting in the lobby and someone walked up to me and was like, “You changed my life” with one of the old health care reports that we used to have, and she’s like, “I tell everyone about it now and how much it had an impact on me.” I think that you get enough people around this country ...
KS: Here at the office, Sally Kuchar was looking at it and talking about 23andMe while I was getting a soda. I was like, “Oh the founder’s here.” It was funny.
It comes up all the time how much it is truly impacting peoples’ lives either from an ancestry component or from a health component. I think that there’s some element of just this critical mass.
KS: People do understand the concept now a lot. You were one of the first to introduce it, on a popular ...
KS: ... on a consumer basis, really. You did have a lot of stumble. Last time we spoke, you had been just finishing wrangling with the FDA over what you could reveal and what you couldn’t and how they classify medical devices. Give us an update of where that is because you had stumbled and had done the proper paperwork you needed to do.
We did. We were classified as a medical device, and we thought we were a laboratory developed test, so we have been going through the process with the FDA. We have now two FDA clearances. The first one was for carrier status, and the second one was for genetic health risks. We don’t have everything back yet, but we have at least a path where I know that we’ll be able to get more of those reports back that we want.
KS: How do you interact with the FDA?
KS: What is their attitude now? I know we had talked about them being slow, a lot of people I talk to — Vic Gundotra — there’s this slowness of the change in regulatory.
Well, I’ve always said, the FDA speaks data. Sometimes it can take a while to generate data. You have to prove it’s safe. You have to prove it’s accurate. One of the big leaps for us is we have an FDA clearance that does not require a physician or a genetic counselor. We all recognize this in health care, that there’s this assumption that you need supervision on your behaviors and your actions. We feel it’s really important to make things direct to consumer because it just makes it cheaper and more affordable and accessible.
We had to prove to the FDA that people can get this information without the oversight of a physician or genetic counselor, and that actually took a lot. That’s all about the product and showing that any education level can understand it and that they can grasp the key concepts. You get an Alzheimer’s report or a Parkinson’s report, that you know what to do with that information.
LG: When you said that you haven’t gotten it all back yet, what does that mean exactly? Someone sends in their sample and what can you do and what can’t you do?
We don’t do all the interpretation back yet that we used to do. We used to do also cancer testing as well as drug response. Those are two categories as well as a bunch of preliminary research. There’s a bunch of report categories that we don’t have yet. We have to get approvals with the FDA on those.
LG: Is that something you’re working towards?
I call them all my children. Yes, I want all my children back.
LG: What kind of timeline are you looking at for that to happen? How does that work?
That’s one thing with the FDA, you can’t ever really necessarily predict, but we’re working on it.
KS: Has this changed with this idea of consumers taking control? Has that changed as the administration has come in and attempted to dismantle ACA? Has it impacted your business?
I’d say the thing at the FDA is a lot of the people who we interact with ...
KS: Are the same people.
... it’s the same people. I think that there’s ... People see that there’s this environment, that Trump’s not coming out and trying to put new regulations out there, but we work with the same people that we have always worked with. There’s a process.
KS: Head of the FDA doesn’t matter necessarily?
We know Scott Gottlieb. He was out here. We’re big fans of what he’s done because I think he knows enough about Silicon Valley to understand some of the innovation and the potential, but he also understands and respects drug development and safety and the needs. The reality is, the FDA is there to make sure that we’re using products that are safe. I have a lot of respect for what they do, and I also see there are a lot of bad actors out there, and I see that even in my space, there’s a lot of genetic information that is not great, not well validated. I see the need for them.
I think that he’ll have a good balance. I think that’s why I was actually happy when I saw he was appointed because I think he’s balanced.
LG: One of the things that we’ve talked about a lot lately on the show, and I mentioned this earlier, is the consumer taking more control of their own health care. We’ve talked about Eutropics, we’ve talked about fasting, we’ve talked about consumer wearables. Kara calls them unwearables. I like to test wearables, so we differ on that topic. We’ve talked about these fancy additive health clinics. A lot of this is centered, it seems, in Silicon Valley and some other metropolitan areas as well. What do you think about Silicon Valley’s obsession with this idea of, I don’t know, controlling their own destinies in some way when it comes to health?
KS: And where is it, too?
LG: And possibly trying to stave off death?
I’ve read the articles. There’s definitely this movement of wow, we must solve death. I think we’re very much focused on the mainstream.
KS: Your companies?
Yeah, 23andMe. I think the reality is that death is just the reality for us. I’m sure some of my peers will be unhappy to that statement, but it seems relatively real. For me, the beauty of what is so interesting out there is like everyone can agree, there’s genes and environment. Your genes dictate a certain element, but you have this huge variability in your environment. For me, it’s I guess people. If we can understand what variables are really important, then you can potentially live the most optimal life. If you know you’re high risk, likely to be a Type I diabetic, are there things in your environment that you can potentially alter to not then develop it?
A lot of these things are potentially preventable if you actually know what you can change. For me, one of the big elements of 23andMe is doing that kind of prevention research. Is that if I get tons of people together and I can actually collect ... Wearables are really interesting to me not just because it’s a single wearable, but en masse, if we can actually all start to look at environmental data, exercise data, sleep data, you can start to triage and understand how much do these things really have an impact, and you’re going to have to follow them for a long time.
KS: Let’s talk about two parts of that. One is privacy and the other is, is it a business. Now there’s been a lot of health care startups lately. There’s Color, EKGs, all kind of different areas in your topics.
LG: There’s Theranos.
KS: Theranos, yes. We talked to you about that. We’re not going to talk about it anymore. Actually Theranos is in that direction, the idea of making affordable testing and different things that seem too complicated. Let’s talk first about the business of it because there hasn’t been, I’m not going to say a Facebook of health, but where is that? Where is that happening? Do you imagine there has been?
What I’m excited about with our round is it has taken us 11 years to get this kind of critical mass.
There’s not a Facebook of health. We’re getting to that point where I can say I have critical mass finally. I look at all of these great souls out here in Silicon Valley and around the world who are trying to make really innovative changes in health care.
It’s hard because health care is spectacularly fragmented. An oncology team at Stanford doesn’t do the same things as an oncology team at Memorial Sloan Kettering and to protect it under the Practice of Medicine, and they have different ways that they engage with their patients. Everything is spectacularly fragmented.
For us, one of the things that I’m really proud of that we saw is I have millions of people now on a single platform that I know are all interested in their DNA and their health. I think there’s a huge potential for us to help, again, engage all of our customers and potentially work with all of the innovative tech companies out here and give them a platform.
KS: Tech has not solved health, and in fact, right now the senate is struggling with yet another version of repealing Obamacare.
KS: Making this a business, how difficult is it?
It’s difficult. I think you have two paths in health care. Either you look at the reimbursement laws or the rules out there, and you say, “This is how I make money.”
KS: I get reimbursed.
You say, “I know that I can get reimbursed in this kind of channel. Therefore, I’m going to offer these services.” What’s hard that we have done, people aren’t used to this idea that they’re going to pay for their own health care. There’s not a consumer marketplace in health care outside of just the wellness like yoga, vitamins.
KS: Right, which is very spendy.
Which is good. It’s a $300 billion market.
KS: Yeah, very spendy.
It’s definitely a big market. Actually making that change, that’s what we’re trying to crack, specifically. It is really hard. I empathize. Every year when I go to Health 2.0 or I was just at TechCrunch, it’s hard. You got a lot of these souls really trying to make a difference and it’s hard. That’s why there’s no one out there that’s really cracked it yet.
LG: If you’re going to do something aside from genetic testing or beyond genetic testing, you were to take that next step and the consumerization of health care, what would that be?
I think you can look at our business and say, I have one medical partnership and that’s with the state of Nevada, with Renown, and that’s it. It’s a phenomenal partnership. I have partnerships with almost every retail. Walgreen’s, CVS, Best Buy. We’re in every place. When I think about the potential of health care and really becoming cheaper, what is that opportunity for the majority of us where we’re not critically ill right now, is that you walk into a retail environment. You walk into Target. Target has a partnership with Kaiser. They have minute clinics in CVS.
I think that there’s a potential for actually taking a lot of the existing health care stuff that we’re doing outside of that system. When I’ve got Kaiser, and if I have a mole that looks odd, I don’t go to the doctor, I take a picture. I email. Kaiser produced statistics recently, something like 50 percent of their visits now are online, just like an email or a video chat. There’s a new way to approach health care, and so that’s what I’m really into. When I think about Obamacare, when I used to invest and I would invest in India and Brazil, I could just walk into an Apollo and I could pay $100 and I could get an MRI, and I did that because it was like a six-week wait and $2,000 to get the MRI back at home.
KS: I did that when I was sick in Hong Kong.
It’s so much more accessible. That’s what we’re trying to pioneer, but the No. 1 thing that you need is you need collective voice.
KS: It’s interesting because there’s so much anger throughout the populace about health care. Everyone’s getting buffeted around these Senate bills and these House bills, none of which they seem to be able to solve for various reasons.
I almost stepped back from it. There’s a reason why we don’t take insurance. I am not part of the health care system. People ask that question all the time of why don’t you take reimbursement, etc. Because I don’t want to be part of the existing system. I really want to do everything I can also to support, you pay for it yourself. You should step up. For some parts of health care that are just routine, you pay for it, but make it affordable, and we’re really focused on making it affordable. I look around the community, what other partners are out there that are also really thinking about the consumer and affordable access to health care for consumers.
LG: One of the things I hear a lot from consumers who are interested in doing 23andMe or another DNA testing kit is they’re just concerned about the implications. They either think that they’re going to get some bad news. They say, “I don’t want to learn how I’m going to die or what disease I’m going to die from,” but another thing that you’ve mentioned before and on your earlier podcast with Kara is it’s not just a window or insight into our genome, but it can also point to patterns around things like capabilities, things like being good at sports or being good at certain subjects and that kind of thing. What are the implications for that when the world just becomes this massive database of genes and you start to be able to spot patterns like this?
This is a big topic in Silicon Valley right now because of I won’t say who, but someone’s memo that went viral about women’s capabilities in an engineering space. Talk about that, once we’re able to spot patterns of certain things and what the implications of that are.
One of the most important things to put out there will be everything’s going to be based on probabilities. I can look at ... My father’s a particle physicist and so he’s very good at math. I likely inherited some other math abilities. Doesn’t mean I’m great. I look at myself and my two sisters, one out of the three of us is really, really good at math than the other two. It’s all going to be about probabilities. If you have something in your DNA that says, okay, you are likely to be better, you might be better at math or you might be better ...
LG: I’m better at basketball than Kara.
Wow. I was going to say.
KS: Everybody’s better at basketball than Kara.
I was going to say, that’s a low bar, girl.
KS: It’s a low bar.
If you’re likely better at basketball than others, there’s the environmental component that’s so critical to factor in here. I think it’s really interesting to see what are you potentially better at in some areas? We have the one test, are you more likely to be a sprinter or a long endurance test.
KS: Yeah, my kids were talking about that the other day.
It’s fascinating to see, but it doesn’t still preclude you. You could still be one or the other with the right environmental influences. All these things are going to say, you have an additional edge on one side here, but it doesn’t mean that your environment can overcome it.
KS: Can take advantage of it. Right.
I think for us, part of what we’re trying to understand with all of this is how much of an influence do genetics have in each area. We don’t know. In some areas, it’s definitely going to have more of an influence than others, like brown eyes. You have certain genes, you are very likely to have brown eyes. Not 100 percent, but much more likely. That’s where environment’s not going to have as much of an influence. This is what we’re really trying to understand. Without a doubt, there’ll be all kinds of questions in the future.
KS: Finally, before we get to questions, we have so many. Privacy, they wanted to talk about during this interview with you. Peoples’ genetic data goes in some kind of database. What happens when your company sells, goes public, is hacked, subpoenaed?
LG: This is something I’ve wondered about a lot because I use a lot of these consumer health apps, and I’ve seen especially fitness tracking and food tracking ones over the past few years, it’s been this consolidation where a lot of bigger brands are buying up smaller consumer apps, where I’ve been entering in my activity data and my food data and everything for years, and all of a sudden this big brand owns that. Everyone says it’s an anonymized, aggregated data, but there are ways data scientists have been able to back into these data sets. What happens in the event of 23andMe ever getting acquired by a larger entity?
A few things. We’ve always run the company that privacy and your ownership and control of your genome is the most important, it’s the foundation of this company. It’s one of the things I think about in a lot of research studies. If you were going to participate in a research study at let’s say UCSF, once you participate you can’t necessarily pull your data out. We give people control all the time. At any point in time, you call 23andMe or you email in and say, “I want to delete my data,” we’ll delete all your data. We can’t undo a research project or something we’ve done, but you can delete your data at any time.
The control is with you. You can share your genome if you want and you can not share your genome if you want. We also have set up the database in such a way that your genetic information is totally separate from any of your identifiable, your personal information. If there was a merger, if there was something that came out there, one of the key elements for us is that consumers always have that ability to just delete their data.
KS: What about hacking or subpoenas?
Subpoenas we have resisted every request that has come, and we’ve never handed over data.
KS: And hacking?
It’s what we’ve said, we’ve done everything we can. Knock on wood, again, never been hacked. Without a doubt, there will be interest in it. At the same time, I do push on it sometimes. Your bank account is inherently interesting or your passwords are inherently interesting. If I come and I get your DNA, I’m like, “Huh, Kara’s not great at basketball and she’s got brown eyes and she’s European.” There’s the interest element.
And what I have seen is that privacy breaches happen more within a family where people will say, “Oh I want to see is my sibling related to my other sibling.” There’s more privacy breaches in that capacity or someone doesn’t want to know, are they a carrier for Alzheimer’s. Dad, is he a risk? Is he not a risk? There’s those issues within a family, but the real issue, us being hacked, again, we do everything we can when we think about that. The incentives are less.
KS: I feel everybody wants to understand my genetic makeup.
I do. We just want to understand you.
KS: It’s quite something. In any case, in a minute we’re going to take some questions. I’m a very simple gal, just so you know. Just feed me and just put me in front of the television, I’m fine.
Give you pretzels.
KS: Yeah, give me pretzels. In a minute, we’re going to take some questions about 23andMe from our readers, and beyond 23andMe, from our readers and listeners, and Anne is going to answer all of them accurately. First, we’re going to take a quick break for a word from one of our sponsors.
KS: Thank you, Lauren.
LG: Yes. It turns out my parents say it exactly that way, too.
We’re back with Anne Wojcicki from 23andMe talking about personal genomics. Now we’re going to take some questions. We have a lot of questions, so we’re going to break them up into some general areas. We’ve got so many, so keep them tight and fresh and accurate. That’s what I would like from you. Go ahead Lauren, ask the first question.
LG: First question is from David Imel, who asks, “How has the accuracy increased since the company launched?”
KS: Good question.
LG: “I’m looking to get it done for my dad for Christmas.”
Great question. Accuracy on health, the technology that we use is incredibly accurate. It has a 99.99 percent producability. It’s a phenomenal technology. If I tell you, for instance, you’re a carrier for cystic fibrosis, if you test yourself over and over again, we’re always going to come back and tell you that you’re a carrier for cystic fibrosis.
There are some aspects of health where we’re still evolving, where I might say, “Hey, it looks like you potentially are a higher risk for ...” back in the old days we’d say let’s say you’re a higher risk for Type II diabetes, but as the science evolves that risk number potentially would start to change as we get better and better data, like all aspects of health care.
Then on the ancestry side, I draw the analogy to Google Maps in the early days when it was fuzzier. Over time, the satellite images, it gets better and better. As we get data in populations from around the world, we’ll be able to tell you more and more specifics about exactly where you’re from in the world. Right now we have more generalizations in certain parts of the world that are not as well studied, like Asia and Africa.
KS: Could you give just a very quick in a very short time what people get when they do these?
KS: I know you’ve done this — lovely ads that you’ve done. They’re very touchy-feely and lovely, but explain what people do. They don’t show any spitting in that.
You go online, 23andMe.com, you spit in a little tube.
KS: You get a kit.
You get a kit. We send it to you in the mail. You open the kit, you spit in the tube. You put the little tube back in the little box. You mail it back to our lab, it’s at LabCorp. LabCorp processes it, and anywhere from three weeks to six weeks later, you get an email back from us that says Welcome To You.
There are really three main sections of the site. One is the health and that is all these different health reports, and it could be reports like cystic fibrosis. It could be reports like Factor 5, which you’ve got, which puts you at higher risk for a blood clot. You have wellness reports, so things like saturated fat. Your genetic weight, which is are you more likely to gain weight or lose weight or be underweight.
Then we have the whole ancestry section, which tells you about which parts of the world you are from. It also compares you to all of the other two million-plus customers that we have.
KS: It can tell you if you have people who might be related to you.
We tell you people who are related to you, factual.
LG: Even if those people have not submitted their DNA?
No, it’s all people within the database, so people who have submitted. We tell you who of our other customers ...
KS: I get one of those a day. I get one of those days, 16 people are related to you.
Well, we might be related.
KS: Wouldn’t that be great?
We probably are. Then there’s the research section.
KS: I’m coming over for Christmas.
LG: She works her magic on reporters. You know, we might be related.
I’m going to call Grandma.
KS: Grandma, exactly.
Then there’s the research section, which people love.
KS: My son reads all of them.
It’s so interesting because part of the purpose is, you as a human being is a mystery still. Your genome, in my mind, is the most spectacular human discovery of our lifetime. There’s like a secret code in each person, and we don’t know what that code means and we’re trying to figure that out. Each time, as more and more people add data, we can start to figure this out. The research section is super interesting and engaging because there’s all kinds of things. The sunlight, you didn’t know that it was necessarily genetic. Some people look at the sunlight and they immediately sneeze. That’s like the kind of thing that it’s like, it’s not necessarily medically relevant, but it’s just really fun.
KS: Right. You had a lot of fun thinking of those. Weird pee.
Asparagus and pee?
Not everyone smells it.
KS: I still have that t-shirt. I can’t wear it anywhere I go.
Because you’re so popular with it.
KS: Yes. That and my Uber t-shirt, now in the closet of my home and they will stay there.
KS: I know, but that’s where they are. They’re together.
I think my Theranos one is there, too. Abigail Jaffe: “My first DNA profile said I was 97.8 percent Jewish. When I connected with my mom’s kit, it changed to 98.1 percent.” That’s very Jewish still. “Why is that?” Why is the different percentages?
We are constantly reworking algorithms and updating it. I don’t know the specifics on that type of account, but that seems like depending on what time period it was, it was probably a new push of the algorithms that came out, and that’s probably within the statistical error.
LG: This is from Frienderado @MrGoodWords on Twitter. “I would be very interested to know what security and privacy measures are in place to protect my personal genetic data from loss or theft. I want to know the technical measures that are in place, for example encryption monitoring, pen testing, etc.”
I can answer some of them. I know that we ... The team is obsessed with the privacy element. We do everything that we can on it. The database structure, like I mentioned, is set up specifically, so we’re separating out the genetic information from the personally identifiable information so that people cannot connect those two together. We do encrypt everything. In terms of the other technical ones, I won’t be able to answer them right now. I’d defer it to my team. I know that that is ... encryption and database structure are the two things that I hear about and pop up from my team all the time.
LG: Interesting. Are they looking into using blockchain?
We have only recent ... no. As far as I’ve heard about, I do not. Again, my tech team, they’re free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I have not heard of anything.
KS: That you’re doing as yet. This is from Dennis McKenna in email: “What protection does 23andMe offer so that my DNA results, particularly medically related ones, never fall in the hands of malevolent actors, including insurance companies?” I think he means especially insurance companies.
Yeah. There’s a few things. When you spit, you control your DNA. It’s yours. If you want to share it with me, you want to share it with anyone else, you have that freedom to share it. We do not share your individual-level data with anyone unless you explicitly consent, so it’s entirely in your hands. The other thing that’s important for people to know, you might have ordered the kit, but you’ve probably given ordered kits in the past and given them away. We don’t have a legal chain of custody either. It might be under your name, but I don’t know that you actually spat.
From a legal perspective, I don’t track it as like you specifically, Kara Swisher, this is exactly yours. I just know that the account is registered there. We do, again, from a point, we’ve set it up in such a way that the control is really within your hands, that you can own who you want to share it with and who you don’t.
KS: So insurance companies couldn’t get a hold of it?
No. We don’t work with insurance companies in any way. I know it gets into some of the questions, we don’t work with insurance and we don’t work with health plans or providers, in part because I know that people are anxious about it.
LG: Does that mean that people can get a test done, but they aren’t necessarily opting in? If you have two million people in the database, that means that you could have potentially have sold many more kits, they’re just not in the database? Is that how that works?
Correct. The sales number we have is always bigger than the number of people who have actually completed it and spat and those tests are back.
LG: Got it. Okay. This is an email from Daniel Gilkes. “Is there any way to have my DNA sequenced anonymously? That way I can be sure that if the 23andMe database is compromised, at least the identity thieves won’t have my name, address, social security number or credit card info and my genetic code?”
A few things. One, we don’t ask for your social security number. We don’t keep credit card numbers on file. I think one of the best things, you can buy it on Amazon and we then don’t have your shipping information.
LG: Then Jeff Bezos has it. You’re welcome, Daniel.
Then it’s just distributed. That’s our blockchain approach.
KS: All your DNA all belong to Jeff Bezos and Whole Foods. When they call you, they say, “I notice that you need some apples,” like immediately. That’s what he’s going to do.
That could be exciting.
KS: No, it’s not. I don’t need apples. Go ahead, answer seriously.
Again, we do everything we can. Again, we see people order multiple kits and send them, distribute them to lots of friends and then we don’t know whose kit is actually whose.
LG: Oh, that’s interesting. I’m going to buy Kara one.
KS: I already did.
LG: Oh, you already did one
She already did it.
LG: I haven’t done it. Her DNA is beautiful. It’s beautiful.
KS: I’m going to do it six times. Beautiful DNA. Oscar, I can’t pronounce that, I’m not going to. “Should activities like this be covered by acts like HIPAA? Do you sell data to third parties?”
We do partnerships with pharma companies and academic research groups to further and advance basic research. We have done programs in the past where we have asked customers if they want to be re-consented to participate in a clinical trial where their whole genome is going to be sequenced or where their genetic information will go somewhere. Usually those are people who have a specific disease, and they’re usually very enthused, but again, it’s up to the individual.
One of the things I feel really strongly about is there’s not enough choice in health care. If you want to get your information, you should get it, and if you don’t want to get it then don’t get it, but we’re all about enabling and giving access about the controls.
LG: When you say you do partnerships, does that mean you’re selling that data to these partners?
It’s not selling. We’re pretty clear, usually what will happen, we had a partnership we announced on bipolar and depression. Those customers are actually consented specifically so that we will get a copy of the data, and the partner will get a copy of the data, and we will both do the analysis. An example like that, we’re both working on the data.
There’s other studies that we do, there was a big study that just came out on preterm labor, and we will participate in that, and we’ll give aggregate data to the study. That’s one where we’re not monetizing it. We’ll just give aggregate data so there’s no individual-level data, but it’s sort of aggregated statistics.
KS: The way you make most of your money is through selling of these kits, right? Is that correct?
We do a few things. One, we sell the kits. I look at the missions. One is about empowering the consumers, and two is dramatically accelerate the pace of research. We do research programs. Without a doubt, I find people who have Parkinson’s disease, they want us to do programs all day long because they want to advance the [fight against the] disease. I do a mix of academic partnerships and partnerships with pharma partners to try and move it forward. For me, the key element here is that balance. At any point in time, my customer can either not answer a research question and then I can’t do research on them, or they can withdraw their consent or they can withdraw their data.
We’ve really tried to make it so that we have a true partnership with our customer. The balance is equal.
KS: You can sell their data if they allow it, correct?
LG: You might sell it to pharma?
I think it’s ... We repel from this word of “We sell the data.” We always want people to feel like they’re in control.
LG: On the consumer end, when you say it’s with their consent that they opt in, how does that happen? Does it happen in the tiny fine print when they first sign up or do they get an email or a phone call from the company that says, "We’re about to start this trial"? How does that work?
We go to great lengths to make sure that people always know that they are opted in to research. For instance, when you’re answering questions, if I ask you, “Okay, what color are your eyes?” and it’s a question, there’ll be a banner at the top that says, “Just a reminder, you are opted into participating in research.” I look at things like the Henrietta Lacks story and I say that, to me, that was such a missed opportunity. There was a quote in the movie where she says, “I would have participated in research, I just wanted to know that I was doing it.”
LG: Right. This is the woman whose DNA was studied.
Her DNA was taken from her and all kinds of things happened and she didn’t know. I think that people ... What I have learned after 11 years is that people really want to participate in research, they just want to feel respected. They don’t want to be a human subject. They want to be respected as an equal and as a partner in the process. They want to know your data is being used for these different activities.
One of the things we did, we have over 90 publications and we launched this service, or it’s a feature of our website, where you can see which publications your data has contributed to. When it’s contributed, it’s in aggregate. It’s part of an aggregate statistic of everybody, but people feel this sense of pride, like, “I have 43 publications in that.” People feel a sense of pride, like, “Oh I’ve contributed to a lot of different papers.” More and more of what I see is not that people are afraid of it, we all want to move the needle.
KS: They should be concerned about it.
Still, they should be concerned about it.
KS: You’re correct that banking data’s much more interesting to people who like to steal these things. That’s the next question I think. Why don’t you ask that one.
LG: Sure, this one is from Chase Roberts. “How do you think about the risk of providing info that insurance companies could potentially use to raise our premiums?” This is another thing, and especially now with some of the questions around preexisting conditions, things like that, I just think in general people say, “Well, the more information that’s out there, how concerned should I be?”
I point to it ... again, the reason why then it’s self-pay and you own the information. I think that it’s so much of what we do is about lifestyle, so you find out you’re at risk for different conditions. Then it’s about your lifestyle and empowering you to make those changes. But again, I point more and more, when you pay for something yourself, you own it. If your insurance company pays for it, then they own it. It’s more and more I think that there’s a huge opportunity for individuals to learn about themselves and then be proactive and know specifically how to be proactive, and I think it should be in your control and not in the control of the insurance companies.
KS: You pay for it, you bought it, you broke it kind of thing.
This is about race. This is from Die Laughing. “Ask her if she thinks she’s encouraging racism.” We should give some context here. In 2015, a developer was able to connect to 23andMe’s API mining the raw DNA of users who opted in. They made a proof of concept program that could say, for example, if your DNA isn’t European enough, you can’t do certain things. More recently, BuzzFeed News has reported that white supremacists are using 23andMe and other DNA testing services to prove their own whiteness.
It’s actually ... I think one of the things I didn’t anticipate about 23andMe is how much learning your genetic information changes your sense of identity. I would say it’s one of those things, I just assumed oh it’ll be so interesting. You’ll see how you’re connected and whatnot. It really changes how people view themselves and how they’re connected to the world. There’s a few small examples where people have looked at this and they say, “Oh wow, look at me, I’m so white.” More often than not you get these stories of people who were white supremacists who get their DNA and it comes back that they’re not as white as they thought, and that it changes their mind.
There’s one of the articles, which is actually one of my favorite articles, and it says specifically watch out because you’re going to learn from 23andMe that you’re not as white as you thought you were.
KS: Some of your ads highlight some of those, that you didn’t know.
Most of us out there are not just French or Scottish or Jewish. It’s this diversity, and what I love is seeing that map of you’re connected to people all over the world, and you have relatives and family. There’s always those few cases where people want to, but overwhelmingly what I have seen, and there’s a couple great stories about it, where people look at this and they kind of are saying in some, “I used to be a bigot and now I’m not.” I think I see this potential for us to actually be able to relate to each other better and actually see more of that commonality because of the DNA.
KS: A different angle on the racism question is something that anthropologist Jonathan Marks has argued. He says DNA ancestry tests reinforce “scientific racism” by highlighting and misrepresenting patterns of difference in the human species. Is it encouraging people to think about race in an unhelpful way?
We have a related question from another listener, @LarryLawal. “I’d like to know what percentage of their two million customers are underrepresented populations, specifically African Americans, and what if anything they are doing to increase it.”
Population genetics, it’s one of my favorite areas. It’s always been underfunded and this is where we will help define and craft. It’s spectacularly interesting. I can look at something like my Ashkenazi Jewish background, and I can so spectacularly predict my Ashkenazi Jewish background and I think understanding that there’s certain characteristics, like BRCA mutation, which tends to be more frequent in that population, and understanding then the why. I think that’s where there’s a huge amount of work for us to do.
There’s all kinds of worries, like are you going to look at the intelligence and whatnot. You don’t see any of those things. I think that’s where I think if anything we’ll be able to debunk a lot of these myths out there rather than support.
LG: You don’t think there’s a chance, because you spoke earlier about probabilities. You don’t think there’s a chance that that could reinforce stereotypes?
What kind of stereotype would you be ...
LG: One of the examples that you’ve mentioned yourself earlier is looking at whether people are good at math or sports. When you look at probabilities and then you start to cluster the data and people then have data, do you think there could be any chance of it reinforcing positive or negative stereotypes?
I think, one, these are the research questions that are out there, and I think without a doubt, I think you’re going to start to see that a lot of these things have very low math ability, very low effect size, and it’s going to be distributed. I think it’s hard to imagine that mathematical ability at any point in time was part of a survival metric for cavemen.
KS: Probably not. What about the underrepresented populations?
That’s something that we think a lot about. I think as we think about all of these issues, really understanding how people have evolved over time is really going to be moot.
KS: What is the breakdown? Do you have a whole lot of white people in there? I’m guessing.
We do. It’s roughly 75 percent European.
KS: Just taking the test?
Yeah. That said, if it’s 75 percent European, that means I have half a million people who are non-Europeans who have done it, which is probably one of the biggest genetic data sets out there of non-Europeans. Even though it’s a small percentage, it’s big relative to everything that’s out there in the world. One of the things we specifically are doing, we just got an NIH grant on doing whole genome sequences on African Americans. We’re specifically trying to do more in underrepresented populations.
The thing I like to always highlight to people is African DNA is underrepresented in part because it’s the most complicated. Europeans are just a subset of the African content, so it’s simpler. Africa is just full of spectacular, incredible diversity. It’s complicated, and that’s where we are doing, we have this ...
KS: Right, specific. I’ve noticed, as it turned out, we had a lot of African DNA in our family, which we weren’t aware of, and now it’s gotten more specific where it wasn’t before.
That’s what we’re trying to do more.
KS: It was getting country specific.
We want to do so much more of that.
KS: Then you can figure out how it happened, which you have some idea.
All throughout Asia and India, there’s so many interesting opportunities out there for expanding. Europeans, it just happens to be that is where there’s been a big population.
KS: That’s who’s buying these kits, too.
LG: The last question is from Hussien Salama, who asks, “As a person of Arab and Middle Eastern descent, I’m worried results will only say MENA region for heritage. Can that change in the future?” Another question similar to Larry’s talking about I guess a somewhat limited database from a certain region or area.
Without a doubt that’s where there’s a research component for us of gaining access to more reference samples. Essentially the more we can find people in different areas and actually know they have four grandparents, that they really are from that area, we’ll be able to expand our reference data set. Without a doubt, the data will get better and better over time and in certain areas. Europe is by far the best. I would say even England, they’ve done an incredible number of genetic sub-population studies, so over time it’s going to keep getting better and better.
KS: Is it in the U.S., most of your tests?
It’s remarkably spread throughout. I think that’s one of the things I’m also proud of is we have a pretty diverse group in terms of economic and regional.
KS: In the United States?
KS: But anywhere else?
It’s concentrated to the U.S., as you would imagine in coast. California and New York are big.
KS: Right. Next ones are about future efforts. These are the last. There’s six or seven here. Six. Future efforts, Cass Miller, @NextGen_Gamer: “Is it possible at 23andMe to add diabetes genetic health risk test in the future?”
We used to have a diabetes report.
KS: Yes you did.
I love that report. Diabetes is really interesting, Type I and Type II. The number of people I know who are Type I diabetics — and clearly there’s a genetic risk factor in my mind that there’s something out there, and then understanding it, and being able to help people understand the environment.
KS: Is it possible? When?
I would love to know when, too.
Like I said, we’ve made progress.
KS: What’s the one you think is going to be sooner than later that was pulled off the list that brought it back on?
We haven’t said, but I think that you can make guesses based on severity of disease.
KS: All right. Next.
LG: Next question is an email from Dr. Paula Amato, she’s an associate professor at Oregon Health and Science University. “Is 23andMe interested in supporting research on human embryo CRISPR gene editing to prevent the transmission of serious genetic diseases to future generations?” If you are, you should email her. Very quickly explain CRISPR for people who don’t know what that is, CRISPR gene editing, and is that something you’re interested in supporting research on?
CRISPR is an amazing technology. If you remember the word-processing apps in the day before there was cut and paste. Cut and paste is essential to everybody who uses a computer, and that’s essentially what CRISPR does. It allows you to cut out part of the genome and to paste something new in, and it’s amazing.
I look at the job of 23andMe as looking at your three billion base pairs, which is a code and we don’t know what that code means. My job is to figure out and to translate that code. When we have translated that, people with CRISPR, they can without a doubt use it. My job, what I’m really interested in is that translation and figuring out what your three billion base pairs mean.
I know the CRISPR teams and I’m supportive and it’s super exciting. It’s not what we’re doing right now.
KS: @Keeny76. This is Keeny: “Since launch, AI has had a tangential leap. How has it affected the findings and what will it look like a decade later?”
I think AI is really interesting when you have huge data sets and I think that’s where we’re just reaching that point with two million people and over half a billion data points. We’re just reaching those numbers where I have enough data to start to really apply machine learning and AI. My dream is at some point in time you walk into your doctor’s office and they say, “Hey Kara, based on your behaviors, based on all these things you’ve done, you’re three years away from being diabetic, so either you make these types of changes or you’re going to become diabetic.” Some way, risk prediction for me is just really interesting and being able to leverage all the data that we currently have and say, can we actually use AI.
KS: Then there will be a robot that takes away the donuts, right?
It depends. Depends on what country you live in. Right now, here ...
LG: Amazon will start sending you apples.
KS: Yes. Amazon will start sending you apples.
LG: Avocados from Whole Foods.
KS: Or your Amazon Alexa is, “Put that down. I see you. Put that down. Put that down.” It won’t let you open your refrigerator.
That’s just your children.
KS: That’s right, just my children.
LG: Next one’s from Lidia Sienkowska, @lydiasworld on Twitter. “What’s the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to personally overcome as a woman in tech or life sciences?”
KS: Talk about the woman’s issue, Anne. Are you more neurotic? You’re a CEO. How did you manage that position given your neuroticism?
LG: Are you okay? Would you like us to get out the fainting couch?
KS: Oh my god, you totally sound like your sister’s laugh right now.
KS: You’re genetically related to Susan.
I am. Sorry, repeat the question.
KS: Sure. Are you neurotic as a woman? How did you become a CEO? No, what’s the most difficult obstacles you’ve personally overcome as a woman in tech/life sciences?
What are my biggest challenges? I read these stories of women in these horrible situations and I am completely empathetic. At the same time, and in some ways Wall Street maybe was just great training for me. When I watched that movie, “Wolf of Wall Street,” I was like, “Yeah.” That was just like what it was. I just got so used to in some ways this egregious behavior.
Really I developed ... well, I always had as my philosophy: There are men, there are women and there are assholes. You just work with the men and the women and you try to avoid the assholes as much as you can. One thing for me, I’ve never been afraid of quitting. I worked for some really challenging people, and I had that luxury in life of being able to say I’m going to leave. I think what I pride myself almost most on now is really trying to create a phenomenal environment in 23andMe. I’m lucky, I feel like my FDA challenges were bigger challenges.
KS: What do you think of the overall issue? Obviously there’s been this scientific research about women and tech and stuff like that.
It’s a huge issue.
KS: What happens to it?
I think one of the things that I try to do — and I see this even in myself when I was on Wall Street — I didn’t necessarily know how to advocate for myself in this sense of like, “Oh, you’re advocating too much, and therefore you’re bitchy,” the stereotypes. I think Cheryl did a lot to bring that up, of the bossiness and such.
KS: Yeah, I remember you talking about that. Go ahead.
I think that, like I said, I think the best thing that I can do, because I can’t change the entire Valley, the best thing I can do is lead by example. I think more and more, I talked to my sister about this a bunch. I have that responsibility then of doing mentorship and outreach and having everyone in the company to be a good citizen. I need to make sure that men and women are paid equally and that they have the equal opportunity, and we have. We have really great numbers of gender representation in the company and that balance.
KS: What is your number?
LG: Are they paid equally?
Yeah. I look at those things. Again, I have looked at it, but I would like to say yes. I think that that’s part of the unconscious bias, is there something in there. We just hired a great new head of HR, so I think that’s, we’re focusing on this. I’ve made conscious efforts of also when I see women in the office who are speaking and then somebody else speaks over them, I’ll pull them aside afterwards and be like, “Don’t ever let that happen again.” Even when some people have done bonus review and then they say stuff, and I’m like, “I’m going to take off my manager hat here, and you need to advocate for yourself.” There’s a cultural element, that I do see.
KS: You think about it hard. I have sometimes, I have to say, “Do you realize I’m actually your boss?”
KS: “I’m not sure if that’s clear to you yet.”
LG: Just to be clear to the readers and listeners who are listening to this, Anne’s sister happens to be Susan Wojcicki who’s the CEO of YouTube, if you didn’t know that when you first started listening. Susan of course wrote an excellent memo after the Google James Damore thing. Did she show that you to in advance?
LG: Did she talk to you about that sort of thing?
She was on vacation. We talk about it all the time. Again, I was so lucky because we were never raised in any way to think that there was something that we could not do.
KS: We need to have your parents raise everybody at this point.
We do. I think that’s where, I remember the first time I was in college and I met this guy and he was like, “Oh no, no, no, women can’t do that.” I remember staring at him and he was like an anthropological specimen to me. I’m like, “Oh, I read about people like you. You’re like one of those people who thinks that women can’t do everything. That’s so interesting. Tell me more about your background.”
KS: Your family does get a lot of attention because it’s three incredibly accomplished ... I mean, your mother’s accomplished, your father’s a physicist. It’s a little bit ...
LG: You have another sister who’s a doctor as well, right?
KS: Doctor. She’s an epidemiologist.
She’s an epidemiologist. We were raised to be very confident. We were raised — again, we’re very confident. I love getting feedback. I love getting input. I always am recognizing we’re not doing it right, so we’re constantly trying to learn. For me as CEO, that’s the gender issue. I’m at that point, I’m trying to understand, what else can we do?
KS: I just posted a really interesting quote from Ellen Pao — I’m going to have her on the podcast next week. “Is it possible I’m really too ambitious while being too quiet, while being too aggressive, while being unlikeable?”
I saw that, yeah.
KS: That’s a great quote.
I think that’s part of it. I did grow up with my mom where half the world would hate her and half the world loved her. I think one of the things that helped, we were just so used to controversy as kids.
KS: Yeah, The Woj is definitely ...
The Woj is definitely uncontrollable.
LG: You said before that you don’t read your own press, that that doesn’t feed into your idea of self-worth.
LG: You don’t necessarily care if people don’t like you?
KS: I read all your press. I read all your press.
LG: Kara writes a lot of press.
Well, someone needs to.
KS: I’m enjoying it. Big deal. I always notice when you’re somewhere fantastic. I think I text you.
That’s from Instagram, girl.
KS: That’s true. It’s going to be interesting.
I’m always open to it.
KS: There’s a backlash going on though.
I read these stories, I’m like, it’s remarkable. I do think I’m really, really lucky that I have my sister because I have a support system. I think that the support system is almost one of the most critical elements out there to drive change. I think that’s where I look at it as rather than rehashing the past, how do I set up that support system in the future so that I can help other females or all genders. There’s men who have ...
KS: Yeah, who don’t like it.
I want to support all of it. How do you actually support that kind of supportive environment?
LG: For you, it’s focusing on how you do that within your own company, how you’re a leader within your own sphere, rather than speaking out.
I think the best thing I can do is I can lead by example. I can lead by example. I’m happy to speak out too, but I can lead by example. We’re going to put out our diversity numbers. I can lead by example and also with the company. How am I operating this company and what are the roles of all these women in the company and promoting and making sure that I’m doing it.
Also, the other thing is admitting when we’re wrong. If I looked at my staff and I was like, “Oh wow, I’m paying the women less,” I need to own it, like, “Wow, I was really wrong.” I think that’s also part of the healing process, everyone recognizing and moving forward. Again, I say it all the time, lead by example, and that’s the best thing I can do is set up 23andMe — especially as we grow and expand — to have that kind of environment, because then I teach people this is what you should actually expect.
That’s the thing that my parents did for me. They taught me this is what you should expect from people. Doesn’t matter what they are, they all treat you well. If they don’t, you leave. That to me, I want people to have ... people in my company need to expect that. If for some reason there’s a department where that’s not happening, we will be changing that.
KS: I also ... don’t fuck with the Wojcickis.
LG: That’s Kara’s example.
I like it.
KS: They quiet. They quiet, but they’re lethal. That’s how I look at it. Your sister looks like a soccer mom, she could kill you at any point, and I understand your mother. You can see your mother coming a mile away, actually. You can see The Woj, you can see coming at you.
The Woj is less subtle.
KS: She’s not a ninja, let’s just say.
You can see her coming from China.
KS: Exactly, so to speak.
Last one, David Nunez, @DavidfromOregon: “When can a college student purchase an affordable version of 23andMe?” How much does it cost right now?
It’s $99 for ancestry only and $199 for health and ancestry.
KS: That’s a little pricey.
LG: He put “affordable” in all caps.
KS: Affordable, in adorable version.
LG: He’s like, that’s a lot of ramen and beer.
KS: You know what, I think he put “adorable” in his version and we corrected it to “affordable.”
LG: Oh yeah.
KS: I don’t think he wants an adorable version.
LG: I don’t think he wants an adorable version.
I can make him an adorable version.
LG: You send it in a teddy bear.
With puppies. We do everything we can. We really try to keep getting the price down for this, and we’ve done specials and sales.
KS: What does it take to get the price down? Companies paying for it.
KS: Companies paying for it and subsidizing it.
Companies paying for it, but again it goes to that point about owning your data. You should pay for it. Part of it is saving up.
KS: What is the big cost, just the testing?
KS: Will that be coming down?
It comes down, but because you just have Illumina and you just have the spit tube, the actual genetic test, the processing, are all single supplier, so it’s hard to negotiate.
KS: Can they do hair or something else that’s cheaper? Piece of skin?
No. You don’t get the same ... We worked on that, and I’d say compared to everything else that’s out there in health care, we pride ourselves on being pretty affordable. I hear from college students a lot, and we think about, should we come up with some kind of college program?
We also are really interested in sponsoring genetics clubs on college [campuses], actually getting people to understand all these questions that we just talked about from the implications in health care, the implications in understanding risk and how you can change your environment to ancestry and race, having those clubs and having those conversations there, so we’re starting those college club programs and then we can offer discounts to those students.
If he wants to email and be really engaged and set up a program at his college ...
KS: People beg to come to Code all the time on a college [rate].
KS: I’m like, “No.”
That’s because you’re mean.
KS: I know.
What kind of environment are you running here?
KS: People who pay me the money.
LG: We did have a kid from college who came.
KS: Did I let him in?
LG: He won a podcast competition and now he works for Vox Media. He networked his way in.
KS: See. Is that Zach?
KS: Zach. He’s good.
LG: He’s a go-getter.
KS: He’s a go-getter.
These can be go-getters on college campuses, we’ll set up a program.
KS: All right. Anne, I’m going to ask you one final question. Is there some day where you’re just going to walk into a scanner, it’ll know all your genetics? What is the most promising technology of the future? One briefly so that we can let you go.
Most promising technology of the future?
KS: That you saw and you went, “Mm-hmm.”
I have to say, the most exciting conference I ever went to was the Radiological Society of North America.
KS: Oh, riveting.
It was, actually. It was so amazing.
No, but it is.
LG: Kara wants to know if you can take her next year.
In some ways, the imaging ...
KS: Was it Cleveland?
It was in that area.
What you can see in your body, that’s to me ...
KS: Oh yeah, 3-D.
It’s 3-D, and you can fly through. You remember that movie where you were the little guy, and you could fly through.
LG: Oh my god, I just mentioned this the other day and a millennial in our office was like, "What’s ‘Innerspace’?” I had to tell him Steven Spielberg directed it.
It was like “Innerspace.”
LG: That’s cool.
RSNA, that conference was like “Innerspace” and it was real. The potential was exciting of what you could visually see.
KS: Did they inject anyone into your veins to save your heart stent? Did they do that? There was an earlier movie for the much older people like myself where they injected something. What was it called? Do you remember? There was a movie where they injected a tube?
Eric Johnson: “Fantastic Voyage.”
KS: “Fantastic Voyage.” They went into them and they got in the stomach and got into all kinds of trouble from the acid and the platelets went after them. It was crazy. Everybody dies inside the person, and I thought they get bigger by accident and then they explode the person. Anyway, “Fantastic Voyage,” I recommend it.
We’re not hoping for that outcome. I think that the imaging ...
KS: That imaging. Beautiful.
Imaging is going to be amazing. Also, because it’s spectacularly visually beautiful, what is so exciting that I don’t know if people are fully aware of is how much cancer is really being almost in some areas being cured.
KS: That would be good.
The developments on cancer are spectacular. It’s so exciting what’s happening. I think a large scale, when I look at the potential of HIV, large cure part, they understood the genetics. Same thing with cancer. There’s a huge genetic component to cancer, and so that I just look at every other disease that’s out there. Every disease at some point is going to have a genetic subtype and you’re going to be able to manage it because you really are going to understand exactly how it’s working. There will be targeted therapies for it.
KS: Then we will never die. Or as my grandma used to call it, the cancer.
Then we will never die. We’ll be like 1,000 and we’ll still be here.
KS: I know. You’re going to get sick of me.
LG: We’ll still be podcasting.
What will gender relations be like, then, if we’re 1,000?
LG: I don’t know, but we’re definitely going to outlive men, because we’re neurotic.
KS: All right, neurotic ladies.
Speak for yourself.
KS: That’s true. All right, this has been a tremendously great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask with Anne Wojcicki. Anne, thank you for joining us.
Thank you. So fun.
LG: Thanks so much for coming on.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.