Along with Leila Jamal and Aaron Vollrath, I recently joined Genomera (now defunct) as a group guide in the genetics discussion group. Still in beta, Genomera enables personal health collaboration by providing a platform for crowdsourced health studies.
Thomas Pickard serves as an advisor to DIYgenomics, Althea Health, and the Coleman Research Group. He is Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at PACSGEAR, a company that integrates medical images with electronic health records. Previously, Thomas held roles at Emageon, eMed Technologies, and Thinking Machines.
- Tell us about your adventures in genetics.
In the early 90’s, I learned a little about bioinformatics at MasPar, a company that sold supercomputers for research. The ‘ah ha’ moment came from reading George Church’s article about the Personal Genome Project in Scientific American, which advocated getting your genome sequenced as a “lifestyle choice” (!) Shortly afterwards, I began work on an MBA and finished research on the $1000 genome in 2009. Since then, I’ve been immersed in genomics and its implications for personalized medicine.
- Has genetic information shaped your life in any way? How do you foresee it affecting our lives in the next 5 years?
On Genomera, a useful side-effect from the Restless Legs Syndrome and Niacin study was learning that my ferritin level was extremely low, which appears to have a genetic basis. Iron supplementation has made a difference, but more importantly, Genomera has allowed me to ask better questions. I have learned more about RLS in the past few months than I have in the past 20 years living with the disease. Over the next five years, we’ll all be able to ask better questions through the mining of genomic information.
- What studies would you like to see at Genomera?
Genomera is unique because participants can elect to share genomic information as part of a study. As Genomera expands, I would like to see studies that analyze results and genetic variants across studies—a true game changer for personal health and wellness.