23andMe seeks consumer boost in long-range data strategy

Last week 23andMe sent a clear signal about its interest in attracting more customers to its genetic testing service, hiring board member and consumer web veteran Andy Page as president. Last year billionaires Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner joined investors in a $50 million financing for 23andMe, and Page has been appointed to make sure the company achieves a major jump in the number of genetic tests sold by the end of this year.

23andMe co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki will supervise Page, who comes to the job after stints as president of a high-end web researcher Gilt and financial chief of the online ticket reseller StubHub. His consumer savvy could help 23andMe, which recently halved the cost of its personal genetic test to $99, reach a goal of providing the test to 1 million people by the end of 2013.

Wojcicki, who is one of Fierce's 2012 Women in Biotech, will leave Page in charge of the commercial side of the business while she oversees the data-driven research side of the house. As officials tell Forbes and as previously reported here, the company aims to become a major player in biotech research by building comprehensive data sets based, in large part, on the results of the personal genomic tests for consumers.

So Page's success in reaching the million-test mark has a direct relationship with the company's ability to offer researchers robust data, which they could query with search tools. It sounds an awful lot like a genetics version of Google, which is one of the chief supporters of 23andMe via the web giant's ($GOOG) Google Ventures and the personal fortune of company co-founder Brin, who is also the husband of 23andMe CEO Wojcicki.

The company has already worked on research initiatives with biotech research heavyweights such as Genentech and others. As Forbes reports, the data market could easily trump the size of the business of selling consumers genetic tests for $99 a pop.

- here's the release
- see Forbes' article
- and a recent Wojcicki interview with Bio-IT World  

Special Report: Anne Wojcicki - Women in Biotech 2012