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Anne Wojcicki Brings DNA Testing to Mass Market

When you’re born to two teachers, one of whom is a professor at Stanford University, you might think that carving an impressive career path would be a fruitless endeavor, but that wasn’t the case for Anne Wojcicki. After graduating from Yale with a degree in biology, she became something of a teacher herself, but not in the way you might imagine. Wojcicki is the CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, a rapid genetic testing service that teaches people the secrets that are hiding in their DNA.

After graduating from Yale, Wojcicki spent a decade in the health care investing field, using her expertise in biology to make investment decisions about biotechnology companies. But after 10 years in investing, Wojcicki left it behind. Her reasoning? She wanted to “have a positive impact on research and medicine.” She succeeded.

She helped build a company that not only empowers people by providing them with their genetic data, but also changes the way we think about our own DNA. In 2006 she co-founded 23andMe, which revolutionized the concept of personal genetic testing.

Streamlining the process to a remarkable degree, 23andMe sends you a small kit that you use to collect your own genetic material via a simple mouth swab. The kit is sent back to 23andMe, which analyzes the sample and provides you with both your personal genome results and your genetic ancestry tree.

Once Wojcicki and her team have done their part, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with the genetic data that makes you unique. You can analyze it through a number of third-party open-source tools to highlight trends in your chromosomes that may put you at a greater risk for certain health ailments; scour your ancestry results to learn where you originated; or simply hang on to the information as new tools are developed to give you a greater grasp of what your DNA means to you.

Before 23andMe, personal genetic testing was a bit of a pipe dream, but the risks that Wojcicki was willing to take not only warranted Invention of the Year honors but also made her a trailblazer in a new and exciting industry that gives us more power over our genetic identity.

E*TRADE and 23andme are separate and unaffiliated companies and this article does not represent a recommendation by E*TRADE to buy any specific security.