July 10, 2012

CureTogether acquired by 23andme

Big news today in the health geek world: CureTogether has been acquired by 23andme.

For those just tuning in, CureTogether enables people to track and share their personal wellness experiments so that others can benefit from what they learn. 23andme enables anyone who can spit into a tube the ability to gain insights into their personal genome. Their partnership, to me, is another sign that the idea of grassroots contribution to health research is no longer “crazy” and getting closer to “obvious” every day.

More background on the two organizations:

Alexandra Carmichael and Daniel Reda founded CureTogether in 2008, “to help the people they knew and the millions they didn’t who live in daily chronic pain.” Thousands of people take CureTogether’s surveys and contribute their own experiences with over 500 conditions such as arthritis, migraine, and endometriosis. The most popular health topic on the site is depression, with over 6,500 members who have rated 105 treatments ranging from exercise to art therapy to drugs.

Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey founded 23andme in 2006 and began offering personal genetic testing services in 2007 to empower people with knowledge of their own DNA. (Avey left the company in 2009.) One of the company’s core values is to encourage people to contribute to science: “So when you send in that DNA sample, you’re not only learning about yourself, you’re joining a community of motivated individuals who can collectively impact research and basic human understanding. In today’s connected information age, it’s no longer just about me. Instead, it’s about how we can change our understanding of ourselves by joining together.”

My personal favorite story about 23andme comes from David Hale: “Everything I n/ever wanted to know about myself I learned from my genome.”

As always, I’d be interested to hear more about what people think about this partnership. More specifically, since I’m working on the questions for Pew Internet’s next health survey: Is the time finally ripe for us to include questions about personal genomics? Or is it still too obscure for most people?

Join the discussion on e-patients.net.