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To Do Something

With spit, data, and determination, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, aims to 'solve health,' writes Lisa Miller in New York magazine.

Of course, there have been a few bumps along the way. The US Food and Drug Administration instructed 23andMe in late November to stop marketing its spit kit and genome service to consumers. In its letter, FDA expressed concerns about the accuracy the company's interpretation of its results.

This, Miller writes, exemplifies the difference in how Wojcicki approaches health. "Over time, we're going to learn more things, and we'll refine the results," Wojcicki tells Miller. "Lots of things are going to change, but we're going to have to embrace that rather than be fearful."

For instance, Parkinson's disease runs in the family of Google founder Sergey Brin, who is Wojcicki's husband though they are separated. In 2004, Wojcicki heard about a rare LRRK2 variant linked to Parkinson's that was more common among Ashkenazi Jews, and Wojcicki tried to find a place that would test Brin.

"I was told uniformly that there's no reason to test him. 'It's very unlikely that he has it,' people said, 'and even if he does, what would you do?' " Wojcicki says. "I found their responses so obnoxious. It was like, really? It's information. I want to know."