The golden age of genomic healthcare, a time when medicines can be designed for an individual genetic profiles, remains a dream for now - but Linda Avey has brought it much closer than you can imagine. She's one of the co-founders of 23andme, a company that provides personal genetic reports online. The way it works is as follows; they send you a kit through the post, you provide a saliva sample, they analyse it in their lab - all for under $100. Considering as recently as 2004 this cost up to $10,000 and was available only to lab technicians and the DNA research community, 23andme represented a radical democratisation of scientific knowledge and the beginning of a new age of consumer genomics.
In 2009 Avey moved on from 23andme to found the non-profit Brainstorm Research Foundation whose mission was to accelerate the pace of research into Alzheimer's disease. The aim was to continue the kind of work 23andme was doing, to collect the essential phenotype information on a wide scale, and further the stated aims of placing genetic information in the hands of the people.
Her current project is Curious, which she co-founded in 2011. Curious is a place where all the diverse information from sensors, dashboards, trackers, apps, social media, and all the other sources of personal data can be brought together. The proliferation of these devices and the accumulation of personal health related data is in desperate need of meaning. Data on its own just isn't useful - the has to be a way of making sense of it all. That's where Curious comes in, it provides analytics for personal health, a community of users, and an infrastructure for people to get the most out of their data.
Avey remains at the forefront of a movement committed to empowering individuals so that they can take care of themselves, take responsibility for their own health, and make sense of their own data.