About our esteemed Guest :-
Anu Acharya is a serial entrepreneur, columnist, poet, and charismatic speaker. As the founder and CEO of Map My Genome, she introduced the concept of personal genomics in India with the launch of Janam Patri in 2013.
She co-founded and pioneered her first venture of Cinnamon Bio Solutions from 2000 to 2013 through innovative bioinformatics and LIMS solutions.
Anu Acharya has been honored with several awards and fundraisers. She received the 75 Million in STEAM WTI Award, NITI Aayog Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2022, Indian Express Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Z Business Special Recognition Leaders Category Award by Indian Express, Pride of Telangana Award 2018, Distinguished Alumnus Award, Young Leaders Forum of British High Commission, and Young Global Leader of World Economic Forum Class of 2011.
At present, she serves on the governing bodies of NIBMG, IIT Hyderabad, and WE Hub. She is also on the Advisory Board at Action For India and KIIT Board of Members of Mentors for Ivy Ventures. She is a member of the CII National Committee on Biotechnology Committee and Member of Him SS Pacific Indian Chapter Masscom Executive Council.
Q)What Exactly Inspired You To Start Map My Genome Altogether?
My journey in genomics has been a relatively long one, pretty much the same time as the human genome itself. Around the year 2000, we started the first company called Awesome Bio, where we did genomics, but it was mostly bioinformatics and a lot of manufacturing of oligonucleotides by microwave. We also started doing a lot of submissions, whether it was through the FDA or others. In many ways, we were with the start of the human genome and continued to do that. Assuming was more of a global company, and we had done three international acquisitions. We were one of the largest in this space worldwide.
But I think one of the things that really bothered me was that as we moved towards precision medicine, we needed data that is of Indian origin. Because we are about 16% of the world’s population, but if you look at the actual data sets that are actually contributing in terms of research, that was very low. That was where we felt that, given our extensive background in genomics, we would be the right company to bring out something to the consumer and the position. Something that would be easy, affordable, and also something that they can use and ultimately be contributing backward. That is how we got started, and that was back in 2013. It’s almost a decade now since we started Mapmygenome.
Q)Do You Really Think That Still There Is Need To Create Education Around This Technology , Awareness Around This Technology Particularly Both Ways Both For The General Public As Well As For The Healthcare Professionals ?
Education and awareness are crucial for the growth of any new technology. The field of genomics is relatively new, and it has only been around for about 22 years since the completion of the human genome project. Therefore, many medical professionals today did not have genetic coursework as part of their education. They are learning about genomics on the job and taking additional courses or certifications to keep up with the latest developments.
For this reason, education and awareness are essential to make genomics a standard part of clinical care. There has been progress over the past decade, with more doctors excited about genomics for diagnosing patients, looking at pharmacogenomics, and even focusing on preventive health. However, it is still a small percentage of medical professionals who have fully embraced genomics, and much work remains to be done.
To make genomics more accessible, it needs to be included in medical textbooks and presented in easy-to-understand reports. Sample collection must also be accessible and affordable, especially in smaller towns and villages where people may not be aware of the testing options. A crucial part of promoting awareness is letting people know that tests can be shipped to their homes, eliminating the need to travel.
Overall, education and awareness are necessary for the growth of genomics. With more accessible and affordable testing options and greater awareness among medical professionals and the public, genomics can become a standard part of clinical care.
Q)Could You Share Your Experience Regarding The Acceptance Of Sample Collection For Genomic Testing? Specifically, What Kind Of Samples Are People Preferring To Give When Asked To Test For Themselves?
Anu Acharya explains that currently, they find the collection of saliva to be the easiest method. While saliva collection can sometimes require some time for drooling, it is still a non-invasive process. Anu Acharya also mentions that collecting the buckle cells is another preferred method, especially in places where individuals are already giving blood for other health checks. In such cases, individuals are more willing to provide an extra ml for genetic profiling.
However, in areas where individuals are far away, such as in small towns in West Bengal or Jammu and Kashmir, it is much easier to ship out a box for individuals to collect their own samples, such as their shampoo, and send it back.
Anu Acharya adds that they primarily deal with three main types of samples for genetic testing: saliva, buckle cells, and tissues and effective blocks for cancer patients.
Q) How Do You Envision The Future Of Map My Genome? What New Initiatives Are You Considering To Contribute To Society?
- We started with Genomepatri, a product focused on preventive wellness.
- We added other products like Cardiomap, Funkomap, and Medicalmap, which offer low-cost and easy-to-understand reports.
- We also started offering blood tests to get different data types from lifestyle and genomics to create personalized reports.
- We are currently working on a new product in the microbiome space called MicrobiomeMap.
- Our research areas include longevity, diabetic retinopathy, and women entrepreneurship.
- We are conducting a Soul Travels campaign to find people who are 90+ years old and study their DNA to understand the secrets of their longevity.
- We are also studying diabetic retinopathy and women entrepreneurship to understand their genetic and environmental factors.
! Upcoming Product Launch !
We are planning to launch a new product called BeautyMap, which will help people understand which beauty products are appropriate for them.
This product will be soft-launched soon, and a bigger launch is planned for next month.