This week, we turn our attention to Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and co-founder of 23andMe. Her journey from Wall Street to pioneering personalised healthcare through genetics testing is a testament to the transformative power of technology. Anne Wojcicki's career trajectory took a remarkable turn when she transitioned from her role as a Wall Street analyst to an entrepreneur on a mission to revolutionise healthcare.
Armed with a biology degree from Yale University, Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe in 2006 alongside American biologist Linda Avey. Their vision was to empower individuals with personal genetic insights to take proactive steps towards disease prevention, believing that knowledge of disease risk could catalyse healthier living. 23andMe's mission to make genetic testing and its results accessible to all wasn't without controversy. Privacy concerns and questions about test accuracy abounded, but the company persisted. In 2008, Time magazine named 23andMe's saliva genetic test "Invention of the Year." This test gave customers insights into their genetic traits and predispositions to various health conditions.
Between 2013 and 2015, 23andMe underwent regulatory scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During this period, customers were limited to accessing ancestry-related test results. However, Wojcicki's commitment to accuracy and transparency led to significant internal changes that eventually convinced the FDA of the reliability of 23andMe's genetic health-related tests. In 2015, 23andMe received FDA approval to sell a genetic test capable of detecting over 30 autosomal recessive disorders, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anaemia. By 2016, the company had genotyped over a million people worldwide. Under her leadership, 23andMe became the first company to gain FDA approval for a direct-to-consumer cancer-risk genetic test. It went public through a particular acquisition vehicle led by entrepreneur Richard Branson.
Anne Wojcicki's legacy in the tech world and personalised healthcare is a testament to the potential of technology to transform industries and empower individuals. Her journey inspires all those who believe in the power of innovation to make a difference. You can stay up to date with Anne and 23andMe here. Make sure you are following MCS to see our weekly Tech Talent blog alongside numerous job opportunities across several sectors!