23andMe steps up R&D with new hire, poster push

23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki

23andMe still has an FDA warning letter hanging over it, but the building of its data-enabled research program is continuing unabated. In a week during which the Mountain View, CA-based company showed results from a clutch of its research programs at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting, it also tasked an industry veteran with winning new partnerships.

Ruby Gadelrab is the industry veteran in question. Gadelrab has joined 23andMe as VP of commercial marketing to push the company's research capabilities to potential collaborators in pharma and academia. 23andMe has had some success in this area--striking a deal with Pfizer ($PFE) in August--and views Gadelrab as the person to build on its progress. Gadelrab's resume is littered with big-name life science companies, notably Affymetrix and Life Technologies.

23andMe poached Gadelrab from InVitae, the San Francisco-based company that is building its own repository of genetics data. Google ($GOOG)-backed 23andMe has a head start on the likes of InVitae but has had to contend with questions about the usefulness of its data. Hookups with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Pfizer have bolstered its reputation, though. And the company is pushing ahead with plans to turn its database of 600,000 genotyped individuals into an R&D engine.

A batch of research projects underpinned by the database were presented at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting. A genome-wide association study into variants linked to being a "morning person" was presented alongside an analysis of the role genetics plays in the development of Type 2 diabetes.

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