In a conversation with Bloomberg Businessweek’s Max Chafkin, at The Year Ahead Summit in New York, Ancestry CEO Margo Georgiadis discussed the company’s move towards genetic health screening.
Best known for helping users discover their geographic and ethnic origins, Ancestry’s success has led the company to venture into new territory with AncestryHealth. This division offers two tests, the first being a one-time test which detects nine hereditary conditions, including breast cancer, heart disease, and colon cancer available for $149 and just $49 for existing AncestryDNA customers. The second offering is a subscription service with more advanced technology, providing customers with quarterly updates on more health concerns, starting at $199.
“We didn't want to be another lab report provider,” Margo explained onstage. “So we really [focused] on what consumers want most. And that was four things: I want actual insights. I want access to genetic counseling services—this is new. I know I'm going to have questions [so] I want support. I [also] want a seamless connection to my physician.”
Ancestry plans to do this by partnering with a network of physicians, who order these tests on behalf of patients. This model is also used by other DNA-testing startups, like Helix, Veritas Genetics, and Color Genomics.
Providing affordable access to next-generation sequencing technology with comprehensive understanding is something that’s important to Georgiadis, who hopes “[this] will enable people to live a higher quality longer life and reduce costs in the system.”
Oversight will be provided by Ancestry partner PWNHealth, an independent network of board-certified physicians and genetic counselors. When you get started, you’ll be asked a series of questions related to your health history. The company is also working with Quest Diagnostics to create a new lab that can handle such testing and sequencing.
The firm’s chief rival, 23andMe which released a similar product line had its tests approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for sale directly to customers in 2017, while Ancestry remains unapproved.
Ancestry hired Georgiadis, the former Mattel CEO in 2018 and by April, Bloomberg reported that the company was preparing for an initial public offering. In 2017, the last year for which the company has publicly shared results, it generated $1 billion in sales.