What represents success to 23andMe's Wojcicki? Developing a cure for a major disease

Print 19 Ноября 2015
Nick Paul Taylor / Fierce Biotech IT

Having guided 23andMe through a tricky period, Anne Wojcicki is now plotting what it will take to turn the company into a real success story. And while some CEOs would be happy with a big-ticket buyout, Wojcicki has a larger ambition for 23andMe: developing a cure for a disease.

Talking to Bloomberg TV, Wojcicki said she has no intention of cashing out now that 23andMe appears to be back on track. With money in the bank from a $115 million Series E round and ex-Genentech luminariesRobert Gentleman and Richard Scheller combining at its nascent drug development team, Wojcicki wants to lead 23andMe through its ongoing evolution from a pure-play personal genomics pioneer to a powerhouse of data-driven R&D. And, this being Silicon Valley, Wojcicki is thinking big. Sovaldi big.

"I want to translate all this information into really meaningful therapeutics, so that we can come then back and say the same way hepatitis C has been cured, I want to come and say 'we developed the cure for lupus'," Wojcicki said. 23andMe is collaborating with Pfizer ($PFE) on a lupus research program, the centerpiece of which is a database housing information about the genetics and health histories of 5,000 people with the disease. If a drug discovered using 23andMe's database makes it to market, it will mark a significant moment in the history of R&D, regardless of whether it is a cure.

This is part of what motivates Wojcicki. "When I think about my success moment, it will be when we have that kind of cure that came because like millions of people came together and they shared their data, and because of that, we were able to create something," she said.

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