23andMe…and me

This past Sunday in the New York Times Magazine, a guy with j0436915a tremendous head of hair wrote about how, in having his genomes sequenced, he found out that genetically speaking, he should be bald. (OK, so Steven Pinker wrote about a lot more than that…but did you see that head of hair!!?)

This morning, here in San Francisco, where I am (for now) escaping the horrifyingly cold weather in NY, I am awaiting the results of my own spit test.  A few weeks ago I spit into a vial (which I then made vile), mixed said spit with some concoction 23andMe sent me, stuck it all in an envelope and sent it off to 23andMe, where some unsuspecting scientist undoubtedly discovered that I eat way too much garlic.

I’m hoping they discover more.  Like maybe why I’m so low on the hand-eye coordination scale.  Or (more seriously) if I’m prone to diabetes, to certain kinds of cancer, Crohn’s disease, or if there’s some reason both my daughter and I love mint but hate wintergreen.  Hey, maybe there’s some genetic reason some Lifesavers flavor-name-writer chose to call it Wint-o-Green? Very annoying, that.

The whole idea of 23andMe is to provide consumers access to a truly amazing new technology that can teach us an awful lot about who we are — and that has the potential to change the way we treat disease, or look at disability, or relate to ourselves.  Genome testing gives us the opportunity for an amazing insight into who we are. And 23andMe is hoping that as we share this information online, we’ll help them create a research database that could, eventually, help scientists with research, and help people connect on a totally different and more profound level than “I’m a Beyonce fan and so are you!”

So this afternoon I”m headed to Silicon Valley (with my new HP Pavillion computer – thank you Best Buy for actually having someone on the floor who knew what she was talking about) to start working on a special project for 23andMe.  And I’m being deliberately vague, here.  This is all very top-secret.  Very hush hush.  I’m even wearing a trench coat and dark glasses as I type.

I will tell you this – I’m meeting 23andMe founders Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey later today at the 23andMe headquarters, I’m going to take yoga (courtesy 23andMe), I’m going to learn a whole lot about genes and genetic testing — which is a good thing, since I know pretty much NOTHING about it (I’m pretty sure 23andMe knew that when they hired me, but just in case, don’t tell ’em)– I’m going to meet a tremendous number of supercool women, to see and visit the Googleplex (how cool is that?) and even get a massage and/or pedicure on them.  Sounds good to me.

I’ll write more about my 23andMe experience once my results are in, so if you’re interested, click on the subscribe to my blog button up there in the right corner.

I’ll keep you posted.  Who knows, maybe I’ll find out that genetically, I’m meant to be a blond, so all this hair-dyeing money I’ve spent over the years was not vanity, but a biological imperative!  Maybe I’ll find out why I really don’t like chocolate (I know, it’s weird), love brussels sprouts, and seem to have an amazing tolerance for watching really bad sitcoms.  The depth of the knowledge I may gain (and the shallowness of the things I’m focusing on – mint? Hair? Sit coms?) is really revelatory, isn’t it?

We’ll see.


  1. says


    I, too, sent in my spit to 23andme, and am waiting. Hopefully, within 2 weeks. They originally said 4-6 weeks, then said they’ve been overloaded, so it will be 8-10 weeks. At least it gives me time to read a book about DNA, so I’ll be a little more knowledgeable.


  2. Joseph Oppenheim says

    Thanks for your response, Nancy, but I don’t have any little girls in my family, So, I don’t want to deny someone else who is more worthy of the prize.


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