23andme presents its consumer strategy

The 23andme staff will approve the research projects, which researchers will then present to the customers. Customers volunteer, submit their phenotypes, then fill out surveys and get to interact with the researchers.

23andme logoIt's research, and the tentative name for it is 23andwe, although the company has yet to buy a separate domain name.

The phrase was first used by co-founder Linda Avey at a Bio-IT World Expo keynote earlier this month.

The idea was fleshed out today at a Wall Street Journal conference as involving 23andme customers directly in genetics research through online surveys and interaction with actual researchers.

The 23andme staff will approve the research projects, which researchers will then present to the customers. Customers volunteer, submit their phenotypes, then fill out surveys and get to interact with the researchers.

The main business of 23andme is selling genetic maps of individuals, at $999 per map. The 23andwe services are only open to paying customers.

The model for this is a previously-announced agreement with the Parkinson's Institute, funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The danger, of course, is you have a self-selecting, middle class and educated cohort as the basis for all these studies. The results may not be drawn from a representative sample.

The hope is that over time the sample becomes representative, especially with the company offering more "fun" services like ancestry painting and family gene comparisons.

The question is how well 23andme can do selling its genome services after the press' klieg lights have been turned off.