1. What’s the story behind EncrypGen? Why and how did you begin?
DK: We began as a project by husband and wife team, Dr. David Koepsell and Dr. Vanessa Gonzalez.
– Disruptor Daily, May 10, 2019
I have been teaching and writing about ethics and technology for more than 15 years, and Dr. Gonzalez is a genomic scientist, working for the Nation Institute of Genomics in Mexico. Together, we had been collaborating on issues of privacy and genetic data, publishing on that subject, when I decided to explore the use of blockchains to help solve issues of ownership and privacy for genetic data. We began the company in late 2016, raised some money from family and friends, and started assembling a team. By May 2017, EncrypGen showed a prototype of the Gene-Chain at the Bio-IT World conference. By April 2018, we had raised some money in a small token sale, hired additional staff and released our first consumer product: MyGene-Chain. By then, people were buying kits from our partners and then uploading their data and filling in personal profiles, or using data they got from various direct-to-consumer testing companies like 23andMe. The first sales of data happened in November 2018, when our full platform launched, making it the first blockchain-mediated peer-to-peer genetic data market in the world. Now we have nearly 1000 users, and more transactions every day. The DNA token is being used by researchers to pay individuals for their de-identified data, and the only fee is EncrypGen’s 10% commission on every transaction. We’re small still, and sustainably growing, and still the only functioning blockchain-mediated genetic data marketplace.