Last week, 23andMe launched a new research initiative to study Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Along with collaborating with Pfizer on the study, 23andMe has also enlisted the help of five scientific advisors, who each bring deep expertise that will assist our scientists in analyzing data and developing surveys for the study.
One of those advisors, Larry Smarr, PhD, who is the founding director of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technolgy (Cali2), said this study could illustrate the power of the 23andMe research model.
“I believe that a more accurate stratification of IBD disease states will result from classifying based on combinations of (genetic markers) than on symptoms,” said Larry. “23andme is the best way to quickly get a large number of people classified to test this hypothesis.”
Larry, who also holds the Harry E. Gruber professorship in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, has over the last decade tracked everything from his weight to his sleep patterns to his caloric intake. He even tracked the microbes in his stool to learn about his own health.
But what had started as a simple effort to track weight loss soon became a focused effort to apply all his scientific skills to manage his own health and his own struggle with what he later learned was IBD. Larry said he sees huge potential in gathering together many people with IBD.
“The study will be successful if it results in a large number of people classified with both (genetic markers) and phenotypes,” he said. “This will immediately yield a first cut at the emerging IBD stratification landscape.”
He knows why he is so interested in participating as a scientific advisor, but he also knows what might motivate someone with IBD to enroll.
“By participating in this study you will help accelerate research toward a new approach to understanding IBD,” he said. “And hopefully to creating more personalized therapy approaches.”