Four years ago my friend David Mittelman and I wrote Rumors of the death of consumer genomics are greatly exaggerated. The context was the FDA crackdown on 23andMe. Was the industry moribund before it began? The title gives away our opinion. We were personally invested. David and I were both working for Family Tree DNA, which is part of the broader industry. But we were sincere too.

Both of us have moved on to other things. But we still stand by our original vision. And to a great extent, we think we had it right. The consumer genomics segment in DTC is now nearing 10 million individuals genotyped (Ancestry itself seems to have gone north of 5 million alone).

One of the things that we observed in the Genome Biology piece is that personal genomics was still looking for a “killer app”, like the iPhone. Since then the Helix startup has been attempting to create an ecosystem for genomics with a variety of apps. Though ancestry has driven nearly ten million sales, there still isn’t something as ubiquitous as the iPhone. We’re still searching, but I think we’ll get there. Data in search of utility….

David and I are still evangelizing in this space, and together with another friend we came up with an idea: DNAGeeks. We’re starting with t-shirts because it’s something everyone understands, but also can relay our (and your) passion about genomics. We started with “Haplotees.” Basically the most common Y and mtDNA lineages. This might seem silly to some, but it’s something a lot of people have an interest in, and it’s also a way to get ‘regular people’ interested in genetics. Genealogy isn’t scary, and it’s accessible.

We are also field-testing other ideas. If there is a demand we might roll out a GNXP t-shirt (logo only?). The website is obscure enough that it won’t make sense to a lot of people. But perhaps it will make sense to the people who you want it to make sense to!

Anyway, as they say, “keep watching this space!” We don’t know where DNAGeeks is going, but we’re aiming to have fun with genomics and make a little money too.

10 thoughts on “Introducing

  1. Cool shirts. Here are some random ideas:

    A GWAS manhattan plot could look cool on a shirt. I’m not certain how to caption it. “Looking for a connection” maybe.

    SNPs – making you unique one base at a time.

    Genetics- It’s all about the base!

    99% identical means millions of different basepairs (or means millions of differences). You could have a Fasta file format with some SNPs highlighted.

    Maybe a CT Scan of an FOP patient with the caption “Sometimes a single letter can make a big difference” (Could say single base or amino acid. Could also substitute some other disease due to a SNP, just to show that a single base change can result in a severe phenotype). Could include the actual base change, ACVR1c 617G>A or R206H for the AA.

    An image of CRISPR with the caption, “Even a good piece of work still needs an editor.”

    I’m in developmental biology and one of the most amazing things we study is cell programming and fate decisions, how for example the zygote gives rise to all the cells of an organism. You could have a diagram of a zygote and a caption of something like, “The possibilities are endless”, “Instructions included”, “Big Things have Small Beginnings”, or something like that

    An image of Waddington’s Canal (A) would be cool with a caption of, “There are many choices to your fate.”

    An image of gastrulation occuring with the Lewis Wolpert quote, “It is not birth, marriage, or death, but gastrulation which is truly the most important time in your life.”

    Somehow represent the Yamanaka Factors with a caption of “It’s never too late to change your fate!” Showing that we can reprogram cells, to an extent.

    I got a bunch more ideas, but I’ll stop geeking out here.

  2. Last one: An anthropomorphic drawing of E. Coli, other disease bacteria or virus in Roman centurion garb with the caption “Divide and Conquer” below it.

  3. I definitely would be interested in merchandise such as t-shirts and such (black t-shirts are a good option perhaps with gnxp in small letters on the left). I would also pay for your webinars, seminars or a series of educational videos on genetics/behavior/sociobiology/politics/etc. I’m also waiting for your books.

  4. Glad to see an E1b shirt—just the thing I need to signal ‘big things come in small packages’.

  5. Some of those dna stores have a thing where you can get a pic of your own genome on a poster or a shirt…kinda of a cool idea. Be neat to be able to get the genome of a friend or pet who has passed away printed on your shirt so you could have them with you.

    I would def buy a gnxp shirt, I think I requested one of those about 5 years ago 🙂

  6. Also, when I wear the shirt I will tell anyone commenting on it that comments should be value-added or you *will* be banned.

  7. Ok wait. The the description for the R1a shirt says “R1a is found in the Indian Brahmins”. I’m R1a, L657 to be exact, though not a bro-min. Why not just say “R1a is found in upper caste Indians”.

  8. Thanks Razib. Linked worked. I bought the R1a in black with borders. Looking forward for future R1a swag.

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