Silicon Valley genetic-testing company 23andMe Inc. said Monday it has hired Dean Schorno as chief financial officer and head of operations as the startup prepares to relaunch its health-testing product.
Schorno previously worked as CFO of closely held Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. Before that, he spent nearly 15 years at Genomic Health Inc. in various executive roles including CFO, as the company grew and went public. Both Adaptive and Genomic Health offer genetic sequencing services, while 23andMe popularized the $99 “spit kit,” which scans people’s saliva for genetic information.
“Leveraging the human genome is what I’ve been thinking about for much of my career,” Schorno said in an interview. His role will include oversight of laboratory operations and facilities to ensure consistent quality and cost efficiency, he said. Neither role existed at 23andMe before Schorno was hired.
23andMe currently provides reports on consumers’ ancestry and hasn’t been able to include health analysis on their susceptibility to genetic-related conditions since a standoff began with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late 2013. More recently, it has won its way back into the agency’s good graces, getting authorization for a test for Bloom syndrome, associated with short stature and sun sensitivity.
The FDA also said it intends to exempt other autosomal recessive tests from premarket review, meaning that 23andMe no longer needs agency authorization for those individual tests. Autosomal recessive disorders are genetic conditions in which two abnormal genes must be present for the disease to manifest, one inherited from each parent.
23andMe plans to relaunch a health-focused product by the end of the year, President Andy Page said in an interview.
The return of a health test will feed consumer data into 23andMe’s research partnerships with drugmakers and its newly formed therapeutics group, which is seeking to make its own drugs. Mountain View, California-based 23andMe has run tests for 1 million people, and more than 80 percent of its customers have agreed to have their anonymous data used in research.
Even as 23andMe branches into drug discovery, it will remain a consumer-focused company, Page said.
“It’s absolutely essential for all our businesses that the consumer side be the priority,” he said. “There is so much interdependency with the business, and it starts with the consumers.”
Closely held 23andMe is currently seeking to raise $150 million in new venture-capital financing, according to a regulatory filing. Schorno declined to comment on the fundraising or how the capital would be allocated.