Couple sleeping

Know Your Health: What Causes Snoring?

By LunaDNA Contributing Writer 

Snoring occurs when air can’t flow freely through the nose and throat.

As air fights to make its way through the airways, it jangles against the tissues in the nose and throat creating a snoring sound. Learn why people snore, and what can be done about it including:

Why Do People Snore?  

People who snore often have too much tissue in their noses and throats. The snoring sound is due to tissue vibrating in the upper airway, typically during inhalation. Most people don’t know they snore until someone tells them. Signs of snoring are: waking up with a headache or dry mouth, waking up suddenly in the middle of the night (and not from a nightmare), feeling tired during the day (even if sleeping a full night), waking up coughing or wheezing, or experiencing dental issues. 

While snoring is not an illness, it can be a symptom of a serious condition called sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by labored breathing, snoring, and gasps while asleep. In sleep apnea, the neck muscles relax, and the pathway for air to get to the lungs shuts down. At that point, the brain will usually send a signal that it needs more oxygen, which wakes up the snorer.  

Often snorers, especially those with sleep apnea, are unaware they are waking up, but they feel exhausted the following morning.  

What Causes Snoring? 

About 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women are prone to chronic snoring. Possible physical reasons for snoring include being overweight, enlarged tonsils or tongue, enlarged adenoids, elongated soft palate or cleft palate, or the shape of a person’s nose or jaw. Other factors that may contribute to snoring are nasal congestion or allergies, alcohol consumption, smoking, sleeping position, and sleep deprivation.  

The following are risk factors for snoring:

  • Being a man
  • Being overweight
  • Narrow or closed off airway
  • Narrow throat
  • Elongated soft palate
  • Cleft palate
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal congestion or allergies
  • Sleep position
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Having a family history of snoring or sleep apnea

Is Snoring Genetic? 

Chronic snoring isn’t necessarily genetic, but factors that contribute to snoring may have hereditary roots. Obesity, certain anatomical traits, and medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, can have a genetic component. These traits paired with non-genetic factors may increase a person’s risk of snoring.  

Parents that snore are three times more likely to have children that snore than parents that don’t snore. Even having a family member that chronically snores can be a contributing factor if it causes sleep deprivation (a risk factor in snoring). About 10 percent or more children snore on most nights. 

Snoring and Sleep Apnea — What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea 

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious medical disorder that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly throughout the night. If your parent has sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk of developing it. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, abnormal test results on liver function tests, and complications with medications and general anesthesia.  

Types of Sleep Apnea 

There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. This occurs when throat muscles relax to the point of hindering airflow, either by the tongue falling into the back of the throat or some other physical obstruction.
  • Central sleep apnea is the least common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the brain doesn’t send a signal to the muscles that control breathing.  
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome is the diagnosis for people with both types of sleep apnea (obstructive and central).  

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea 

Symptoms of sleep apnea (besides loud snoring) include: 

  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Chest pains
  • Feeling excessively drowsy throughout the day
  • Irritability
  • Chronic headaches or sore throat
  • Dry mouth after waking in the morning
  • High blood pressure

Risk factors for sleep apnea include having a heart disorder; excess weight; nasal congestion; thicker neck circumference; a narrow throat; family history of sleep apnea; use of sedatives, pain medications, or alcohol that relax throat muscles; and smoking. Anyone that smokes is three times as likely to have sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. Smoking can increase inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.  

Snoring Solutions and Treatment 

Treatments for snoring run the gamut from non-invasive nasal breathing strips to invasive surgical procedures. Other non-invasive home remedies include sleeping on the side instead of the back, losing weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and treating allergies. Treatments for snoring that may require a prescription for insurance coverage are a mouth guard or a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine that prevents airway collapse. One of the most invasive remedies is surgery to remove the excess tissue in the airway. Success rates for surgery are good, but the procedure can be painful. Surgery is rarely used to treat snoring without sleep apnea. Your doctor can determine the best treatment option for you. 

Is Snoring Curable? 

Less snoring can be achieved with behavioral changes, treatments, and remedies. A diagnosis from a doctor or a specialist, such as an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) is the first step. A diagnosis holds the key to determining if snoring is the issue or if it is a symptom of another condition. 

How to Stop Snoring 

To stop snoring, you must find the right combination of strategies. Some simple remedies to try include:  

  • Avoid sleeping on the back; sleeping on the side keeps the tongue from obstructing airflow
  • Lose that weight, especially if you weren’t snoring before gaining weight
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime; make sure last call is at least four hours before you go to bed
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep at night; not getting enough sleep makes muscles floppy and leads to snoring
  • Try raising the head of your bed by four inches; if this doesn’t work, try a wedge pillow next
  • Kick the pets out of bed; pet dander can irritate your nasal allergies
  • Change out the bed pillow regularly to keep dust mites (that can lead to snoring) at bay
  • Hydrate by drinking plenty of water that helps keep nasal passages moist and unclogged by keeping phlegm flowing and less sticky

Luna is bringing together individuals, communities, and researchers to better understand life, including genetic traits like snoring. Directly drive health discovery by joining the Tell Us About You study. The more we come together to contribute health data for the greater good, the quicker and more efficient research will scale, and improve the quality of life for us all.  

Click here to get started.

Woman meeting with her doctor

Understanding Your Personal and Genomic Health: An Interview with Genome Medical

A few months ago, we partnered with Genome Medical to offer LunaDNA members access to their network of clinical genomic specialists to dig deeper into their health and DNA information.

Today, we’re chatting with Sheryl Walker, MS CGC to take a deeper look into the services they offer and how understanding your genetic makeup can help kickstart your health journey.

LunaPBC: Hi Sheryl Walker, MS CGC. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today and share more about the amazing work you’re doing at Genome Medical. We’re excited to be partnering with you. In a nutshell, can you tell us more about Genome Medical and the services you offer to LunaDNA members?

Sheryl Walker, MS CGC, Genome Medical

Genome Medical: No problem, thank you for the opportunity! Genome Medical provides genetic counseling services by phone or video to individuals in all 50 states and has professionals with expertise in multiple areas of clinical care, including cancer, cardiology, reproductive, pediatric, pharmacy, and proactive genetic testing. LunaDNA members can schedule a one-on-one genetic counseling session in any of these areas to review their personal medical history and family medical history, discuss any appropriate diagnostic genetic testing, and get answers to specific questions they may have regarding previous test results. Diagnostic genetic testing can be informative for individuals with a diagnosis to guide treatment, aid in recommendations for future care, provide risk information for relatives, and more.  

LunaPBC: That’s wonderful. This is clearly beneficial for someone with health questions. It sounds like people can learn more about themselves and, importantly, take adequate preventative measures on their health journey. What if someone isn’t experiencing any health challenges? How might they benefit from speaking with a genetic counselor?

Genome Medical: That is an excellent question. As researchers continue to learn about how our genes impact our health and potential for disease, and as more consumers learn about the information their genes can provide, more individuals are seeking genetic information–including those who are healthy and unaffected by disease. While a person may not currently have a disease diagnosis, testing of their genes could reveal health risks and the potential for a future diagnosis. Many genetic diseases present earlier in life or family members will show signs and symptoms of a genetic disease that is being passed through a family, but this is not always the case. Many factors influence the manifestation of disease, including environment, lifestyle, age, and genetic factors. Even individuals who currently have a clean bill of health could have a risk for hereditary disease based on their family medical history or be found to have a genetic disease predisposition that may not show signs in standard health screenings. One such example is predisposition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle; this would not be identified unless a person was undergoing specific cardiovascular imaging. For several hereditary disorders, such as genetic predisposition to cancer risk, there are recommended screenings and management guidelines to help prevent a diagnosis and reduce risk. All individuals can benefit from reviewing their personal and family medical history with a genetic counselor. Even individuals who have no ‘red flags’ may be interested in and potentially benefit from clinical genetic testing and proactive health screening.  

LunaPBC: Last year, we commissioned the Harris Poll to conduct a survey across 2,000 Americans to better understand the relationship Americans have with consumer DNA test kits, including how informed they feel about how their DNA data will be used and general concerns with participation. We learned that roughly approximately one quarter of Americans are concerned about finding out they carry a genetic disease (24%) and that their insurance company could access their results (23%). What would you say to the population of people who have these concerns?

Genome Medical: As a genetic counselor, I feel strongly that genetic testing can be extremely beneficial, but also that genetic testing is a personal choice. I have found that patients will choose to learn about genetic testing at different times in their lives (e.g. not interested in their 30’s but become interested in their 40’s) and seek different amounts of genetic information. The discussion we have in their session helps determine how they want to proceed and what is going to be most beneficial for them. I think it is good to question one’s motivations for accessing genetic information and, even more importantly, to think about how one might use this information and how they would feel if they learned they carry a genetic predisposition to disease. Genetic testing does not change what already exists in our DNA, but the knowledge can change our awareness of predisposition and health risk.  

I often hear concerns about privacy and access to genetic information. Regardless of how genetic testing is being facilitated — be it through a research study, a direct-to-consumer DNA kit, or a diagnostic laboratory — it is important to know how your information and data are handled, accessed, stored, and what legal protections exist in relation to genetic information. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), enacted in 2008, protects individuals from discrimination in health insurance and employment based on genetic test results. Some states have additional protections beyond GINA. However, the federal protections do not extend to private life insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance. More information on this federal law can be found at ginahelp.org. Genetic counselors discuss this information during appointments, as it can impact decision-making about genetic testing.   

The role of the genetic counselor is to help navigate these issues and decisions and explain risks and testing in a way that’s easy to understand. Genome Medical is proud to be able to provide this type of precision medicine care in a convenient and affordable way to their patients.  

LunaPBC: Knowledge is truly power. We often get asked, ‘Why would I use Genome Medical’s services when I can order a test on my own through companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA?’ I’m sure you get these questions, too. How do you best answer this?

Genome Medical: It’s important to understand the difference between consumer and diagnostic testing. While there are many different direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests available that a person can order themselves, diagnostic genetic testing can only be ordered by healthcare professionals like the genetic counselors and geneticists at Genome Medical. The testing performed by consumer companies typically uses SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) analysis that looks at predetermined sites in your genes. Most diagnostic genetic testing, however, is performed using next-generation sequencing which looks comprehensive across all sites in the genes. You can think of it this way: if one of your genes was a book, SNP analysis is like reading a single page, whereas next-generation sequencing reads the entire book cover to cover. Further, consumer tests typically do not incorporate personal medical history or family medical history in their offerings. Genetic counselors study this important information alongside diagnostic genetic test results to provide personalized insights and recommendations on health risk. Lastly, most consumer companies report extremely limited, if any, information on inherited disease risk, and, if they did report a finding (whether cancer risk-related or otherwise), the finding absolutely needs to be confirmed through diagnostic genetic testing before making any changes to medical care. If an individual has a strong family history of cancer or cardiovascular disease, they should seek genetic counseling and diagnostic genetic testing.

LunaPBC: So, in short, there’s a significant difference. As we can imagine, your clinical team of 40+ medical geneticists, genetic counselors, primary care doctors, pharmacists, and other specialists — who can provide medical services in all 50 states — puts you at an advantage to reach a wide network of people. How soon can a member speak with one of your Genetic Counselors once they become interested?

Genome Medical: Appointments are very convenient. We can see individuals by phone or video. Interested LunaDNA members can typically speak with a genetic counselor within 24-48 hours (limited weekend appointments are available). 

LunaPBC: This is a great opportunity. Is there anything else that may be important for LunaDNA members to know that we may not have already covered?

Genome Medical: As mentioned earlier, I think everyone can benefit from a thorough discussion of their personal and medical family history. However, it is important to recognize that, like other areas of medicine, genetics is subdivided into different specialties. The genetic counselors at Genome Medical have different areas of expertise, so if an individual is interested in learning more about cancer risk and discussing inherited cardiovascular diseases, this may be best addressed in two separate appointments. In order for our genetic counselors to best tailor your session to fit your specific needs, it always helps to have as much information as possible before your scheduled appointment; this can include filling out our intake survey, indicating specific questions you want to address, and uploading previous genetic test results to our portal for review. The health information in your LunaDNA account can be easily forwarded ahead of your appointment. Our medical practice is driven by our desire to provide the best genetic healthcare experience possible. We look forward to hearing from your members!  

LunaPBC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sheryl Walker, MS CGC, and for supporting us to encourage our members to take control of their health and their data.

If you are interested in scheduling a consultation with a Genome Medical genetic counselor, you can do so here.

About Genome Medical
Genome Medical is a national telegenomics technology, services and strategy company bringing genomic medicine to everyday care. Through our nationwide network of genetic specialists and efficient​ Genome Care Delivery​ technology platform, we provide expert virtual genetic care for individuals and their families to improve health and well-being. We also help health care providers and their patients navigate the rapidly expanding field of genetics and utilize test results to understand the risk for disease, accelerate disease diagnosis, make informed treatment decisions and lower the cost of care. We are shepherding in a new era of genomic medicine by creating easy, efficient access to top genetic experts. Genome Medical is headquartered in South San Francisco​. ​To learn more, visit www.genomemedical.com ​and follow ​@GenomeMed.​

About the Partnership
Since our partnership in April 2020, LunaDNA members across the United States can access a network of clinical genomic specialists — including medical geneticists, genetic counselors, pharmacists, and primary care doctors — to better understand their health and DNA information.

Interested in learning more about your personal and genomic health? Get started here.

COVID-19 Study Infographic Snippet

LunaDNA Reveals Early Insights from the COVID-19 Study

In March 2020, LunaDNA, in partnership with Genetic Alliance, opened a COVID-19 study to gather physical and mental wellness information directly from individuals during the global pandemic.

As of today, individuals from across the country and beyond have submitted over 187,000 survey responses revealing some remarkable early insights that have been presented to noteworthy science organizations. The study is still open and all are welcome and encouraged to share their experience to build a representative body of knowledge.

Early data shows that, of all survey respondents, one in six has taken a COVID-19 test and nearly one-third tested positive. Additionally, those 45 years of age and older were 4.3x more likely to test positive for the virus than those younger than 45, and those 65 years of age and older were 3.5x more likely to test positive than those between the ages of 24 to 44. 

Other preliminary insights from the survey data reveal testing expectations and anxiety level for respondent’s who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The infographic below highlights the key findings.

COVID-19 Study Infographic Snippet
Click Image to View More Insights

Different than many institutional studies, the LunaDNA COVID-19 Study gives people and communities the tools to capture their lived experience during this unique time, recognizing that each person, community, and geography is impacted differently and will likely experience different long-term effects.

Sharon Terry, COVID-19 Study partner and CEO and President of Genetic Alliance, presented these early insights to the National Academy of  Medicine’s (NAM) Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.

This study is conducted by the people, for the people, and in collaboration with various communities. This inclusive approach has garnered broad appreciation both for its ability to incorporate real-world experiences but also because it’s empowering people to have a voice in what will not be a one-size-fits-all solution to COVID-19. We are responding to NAM’s recommendation to expand to at-risk individuals such as those in nursing homes and detention centers. When unique voices and experiences are represented, researchers can deliver more precise answers.”

COVID and Communities 

LunaPBC, the public benefit corporation behind the LunaDNA platform, is collaborating with various community groups to support privacy-protected COVID-19 study including Genetic Alliance and Disease InfoSearch, xCures, San Diego Blood Bank, and the Propionic Acidemia Foundation. Each community’s study has a unique focus, ranging from how the virus affects cancer, genetic disorders and co-morbidities, to general data-sharing for research studies and clinical trials.

We encourage community leaders to create their own COVID-19 study program and leverage the LunaDNA infrastructure to better understand the impact of the coronavirus in their communities. Please contact us at collaboration@lunadna.com to explore your needs and goals.

Answers Wanted 

The COVID-19 Study is an IRB-approved study. If you are a researcher interested in qualifying and/or quantifying the short- and long-term physical and mental impact of the coronavirus pandemic and/or COVID-19 disease, we want to meet you. The LunaDNA platform exists to bridge individuals, communities, and researchers for privacy-protected, socially responsible discovery that improves health and quality of life in local communities and beyond. The need to invite individuals into research from the safety of their home, and to incorporate their lived experience into discovery, has never been clearer. Please contact us at discovery@lunadna.com.

Your Voice Matters 

We invite all people over the age of 18 to join the COVID-19 Study by taking the physical and mental wellness questionnaires on LunaDNA. Together, we can surface insights to improve our current state and better prepare for future pandemics. The LunaDNA platform preserves your personal privacy, is simple to join, and is free of charge — it costs only 5 minutes of your time to contribute to valuable research. Click here to get started.

Bob Kain Head Shot Dark Bkgnd

Creativity Seeds Innovation: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Towards Redefining Health

LunaPBC’s CEO Bob Kain is named to Fast Company’s annual list of the Most Creative People in Business for 2020.

By Bob Kain, LunaPBC CEO and Co-founder

Innovation has always been proudly hailed as a core value in business, and rightfully so. Every business leader will admit this powerful tool supports developing valuable technologies, designing disruptive products, and vastly improving the way products or services are delivered to optimize business models. But what seeds innovation? How might business leaders develop this skill to make true, impactful change? It starts with creativity.

When applied appropriately, creativity is the secret sauce for improving organizational efficiency, decreasing costs, reducing risks, improving morale, and of course, seeding innovation. It is a crucial organization asset all too often left untapped. Fortunately, we all have the capacity to be creative in solving problems and carrying out work responsibilities. 

Developing a creative organization often starts with 1) clearly communicating the organizational challenges staff should consider, steering the creativity process squarely in the direction of value creation, and 2) teaching the fundamentals of the creativity process.

Organizations must encourage and nurture creative thinking and the sharing of ideas between employees. Innovation can arise when the right creative ideas are then implemented to solve important challenges and move the company forward to meet its goals. It is critical to continuously engage team members on the organization’s mission, goals, and main tactical challenges, while empowering them to think about, share, and discuss ideas.

Identifying the key problems to be solved, root causes of the problems and the strengths and weaknesses of existing options often enables us to surface valuable, new, creative solutions.”

Initial ideas may sometimes be silly, impractical, or seem to result in new problems, however, the journey to the right solution follows a path of thoughtful analysis of many wrong solutions. This deep understanding of the problem, the landscape around the problem, and the intricate details of the flaws in proposed solutions lead us to new creative solutions.

Bob Kain Head Shot Open Interior
Bob Kain, CEO + Co-founder at LunaPBC

Implementing Creativity to Impact Genomic Sequencing

Reflecting back on my 15-year career at Illumina, architecting the HiSeq is a great example of creativity utilizing technology tools to design a disruptive new product. Illumina, the biotech giant, was in a heated competition fighting to stay a half step ahead in the marketplace by introducing incremental product improvements to its Genome Analyzer DNA sequencing machine. Simultaneously, some of us focused our thinking on a bet-the-company strategy to reduce sequencing costs by at least a factor of ten. To accomplish this, we first had to understand and model the transformation that occurs in order to convert biological information — the A, C, T, and G’s in our genome – to digital information that could be stored on a computer.  Based on this understanding and knowledge of available technology building blocks, the HiSeq instrument was architected using technologies that followed Moore’s Law improvement curves. We chose technologies that would both provide an order of magnitude improvement over competitive offerings at launch, and provide a decade-long product roadmap that would improve on performance by two orders of magnitude. The resulting HiSeq product line not only broke the $1,000 genome barrier, but it was also capable of bringing the cost per genome down to $100 in the future.

Illumina HiSeq 2000
Illumina HiSeq 2000

Reinventing Industry Business Models

Similarly, LunaDNA’s solution to catalyzing health research is an example of creatively reinventing the industry business model to enable unfettered access to health data and accelerate the pace of discovery. This mission-driven journey began years before co-founding the organization when many of its executives from Illumina began investigating impediments to understanding how the human genome impacts health.  

We uncovered multiple factors slowing the pace of discoveries, including structural impediments. Institutions refused to share data, viewing this information as proprietary assets on their balance sheet. Attempts to establish federated data systems linking data from national genome centers, academic medical institutions, and for-profit organizations failed. Even when federated models included organizational permissioning and price setting for data access, there was little interest in data sharing. The personal data of individuals was being scooped up and locked away as organizational bounty.

We also identified social impediments to data sharing. In 2013, I sponsored a scientific meeting at the Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor titled Accelerating Genomic Research With Privacy Protections to determine the extent to which we, as a society, can protect genomic information and utilize it for the greater good. Many experts in the field were invited. Attendees reviewed technical options to protect privacy and security, and explored the challenges faced by academic researchers, hospital systems, and direct-to-consumer genetics companies in engaging study participants and soliciting consent for data sharing. 

It was at this Banbury meeting where we learned that an increasing participant engagement could not be solved solely by technology alone. Lack of engagement could be attributed to the individual’s lack of trust in the data stewardship. The group authored a White Paper published in PLOS Biology, entitled Redefining Genomic Privacy: Trust and Empowerment. The paper concluded that trust and empowerment were the keys to gaining consent and engagement from study participants, and this gaining of trust could be accomplished through transparency, control, and reciprocity around the use of their data. Needless to say, the lack of creativity the future of health discovery was facing was apparent to many experts in the field. 

As the meeting progressed, we shifted our focus from discovering links between our genome and our health to more generally improving health and quality of life. We became aware of additional impediments caused by “missing data” in studies; data that only exists in the heads of individuals. Examples of this missing data include patient-reported outcomes, patient adherence to physician recommendations, and behavioral information such as diet and exercise. This missing data could only be accessed by forming a trusted relationship with individuals, establishing long-term engagement, and educating people on the value to themselves and the communities of their participation in health research.

Creatively Changing Societal and Regulatory Issues of Data Ownership

Another important factor in health discovery much acknowledge is the changing legal and regulatory issues related to personal data privacy. The increasing awareness of how personal data is being used and abused is causing a societal backlash. Legislation is quickly putting a stop to many of these abuses, such as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Corporate brands are getting tarnished when privacy violations are publicized. These factors have to be taken into account when creatively designing a data and discovery ecosystem.

The LunaDNA business model and the HiSeq architecture did not arise simply by putting all this information into a bucket and magically coming up with a solution. The solutions arose because this information was understood by the founders. In the case of LunaDNA, the information formed the basis of many creative discussions around what a successful and disruptive solution to enabling unfettered access to health data might look like. In the end, one concept rose to the top: return ownership of the data back to the individual. The problem could not be solved with an institutional data ownership model. It was time to do what is right for people and respect a person’s right to data privacy, control, transparency, and attribution. We directly invite every person to join the journey, to collectively catalyze health discoveries. 

So in 2017, we formed LunaPBC, a Public Benefit Corporation, and then founded LunaDNA. 

Different than the institutional data silo model, LunaDNA forms a data-sharing relationship directly with individuals and communities, is interoperable across communities, delivers value to participants, and operates under the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission oversight (covered in Nature Biotech) and in compliance with modern international consumer privacy laws.

Both in the example of the HiSeq $1000 genome sequencer and creation of community-owned LunaDNA, creativity arose as a result of a deep and comprehensive understanding of the respective ecosystems and free-flowing analysis and conversations focused on new approaches to success in each ecosystem.”

These approaches aligned with the mission, purpose, and strategic aims of the people and organizations involved. 

I would like to thank all of my colleagues at Illumina and at LunaPBC for joining me on these journeys, and Fast Company for honoring me with Most Creative People in Business Award for 2020. It’s been a fun ride.

Bob Kain

LunaPBC’s CEO Bob Kain Named to Fast Company’s Annual List of Most Creative People in Business for 2020

We’re proud to announce that our Chief Executive Officer, Bob Kain, has been named to Fast Company’s annual list of the Most Creative People in Business for 2020.

This news comes just months after LunaPBC was named to Fast Company’s annual list of the Most Innovative Companies for 2020 in the Social Good category. Bob is recognized for his incredible achievements and significant impact in health tech, architecting Illumina’s HiSeq sequencing program, starting in 2008, and co-founding LunaDNA in 2017, the world’s first member-owned data-sharing platform for health research.

This year’s winning group features individuals working in artificial intelligence, winemaking, cybersecurity, television, underwater museum design, and more. It includes leaders from Patagonia, Amazon, Kaiser Permanente, Citi, and Google; and it spans across the globe, from China to Peru to Jordan to Burlington, Vermont.

“The Most Creative People in Business list offers a highly vetted, fully reported view of the powerful ideas and diverse leaders already shaping tomorrow,” said Jill Bernstein, Editorial Director at Fast Company.

Bob Kain
Bob Kain, CEO and Co-founder at LunaPBC

Bob Kain and His Creative Endeavors in Health Tech

Biotech executive, inventor, and entrepreneur, Bob is a renowned pioneer in genomics, dedicating most of his career building Illumina, Inc. pre-IPO from 30 employees with no revenue, to a burgeoning workforce of over 3,000 employees and $1.4B in revenue. In 2017, Bob came out of retirement following his 15-year career as the chief engineering officer at Illumina to co-found LunaPBC, the public benefit corporation behind LunaDNA. In between his career at Illumina and LunaPBC, Bob founded health and fitness business, Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center, with multiple sites in San Diego, California, and Reno, Nevada.

“Innovation has always been hailed as a core value in business, and rightfully so. Every business leader will admit this powerful tool supports developing valuable technologies, designing disruptive products, and vastly improving the way products or services are delivered. But what seeds innovation? How might business leaders develop this skill to deliver truly impactful change? It starts with creativity,” Bob shares in his article, Creativity Seeds Innovation.

When applied appropriately, creativity is the secret sauce to improving organizational efficiency, decreasing costs, reducing risks, improving morale, and of course, seeding innovation. It is a crucial asset to an organization often left untapped. Fortunately, we all have the capacity to be creative in solving problems and carrying out work responsibilities.”

LunaDNA’s COVID-19 Study Program

As technology advances, so do creative health innovations, including the recent spike in biotechnology companies aiming to support biomedical research studies at scale. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bob believes there’s no better time to seed innovation than now. In March 2020, Bob helped launch LunaDNA’s COVID-19 Study, a program that offers people and communities the tools to share their lived experiences during this unique time, recognizing that each person, community, and geography is uniquely impacted and will likely experience different longterm health effects. LunaPBC is collaborating with various groups to support privacy-protected COVID-19 information sharing including Genetic Alliance and Disease InfoSearch, xCures, San Diego Blood Bank, and the Propionic Acidemia Foundation. Each study has a special focus, ranging from how the virus affects people with cancer, genetic disorders and co-morbidities, to capturing individual’s interest to join research studies.

Co-founders from Left to Right: CFO David Lewis, CEO Bob Kain, President Dawn Barry

LunaPBC focuses on supporting research to identify links between our biology and health, as well as surface other factors related to wellness, such as environmental and social influences. LunaDNA elevates people to partners in research with data privacy, control, and transparency, recognizing that the future of discovery requires big relationships over big data. Bob hopes that LunaDNA will bring data together at scale to fill the missing gaps in today’s databases.

We praise Bob for this incredible recognition and look forward to the additional creative innovations he’ll bring to health tech.

“I would like to thank all of my colleagues at Illumina and at LunaPBC for joining me on these journeys, and Fast Company for honoring me with 2020’s Most Creative People in Business Award. It’s been a fun ride.”

About LunaDNA and LunaPBC
LunaDNA makes discovery representative of the real world and aligned with people’s true goals by giving all individuals a role in research from right where they are. LunaDNA is a digital data-sharing community owned by its members. By sharing health information, you directly power disease research. As a member, your data is confidential. You control the information you share — only one copy of your data exists and you always control its inclusion in LunaDNA. We make it simple for all credible researchers to pursue health and quality of life discovery. LunaDNA is managed by Public Benefit Corporation, LunaPBC, founded in 2017 and headquartered in San Diego, California. The LunaPBC team, investors, and advisors are renowned in the patient-advocacy, health, and science fields, including several former chief executives of Illumina, industry academics, and financial executives.

About Fast Company
Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies and thinkers on the future of business. Since 2011, Fast Company has received some of the most prestigious editorial and design accolades, including the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) National Magazine Award for “Magazine Of The Year,” Adweek’s Hot List for “Hottest Business Publication,” and six gold medals and 10 silver medals from the Society of Publication Designers. The editor-in-chief is Stephanie Mehta and the publisher is Amanda Smith. Headquartered in New York City,Fast Companyis published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at fastcompany.com.

For more information visit fastcompany.com.