Following Shakeup, Human Longevity Hires a CTO and Announces New Consumer Plans

Looking to grow its consumer-facing Health Nucleus platform, the genomics company announced a $25,000 plan that includes MRIs and a battery of other tests.

Human Longevity, the brainchild of genomics maven J. Craig Venter, has a couple of announcements to make.

First, it has introduced a new chief technology officer. Scott Sorensen will take over the role, which he previously held at Ancestry, and report directly to Venter. In an official announcement, his new employer said that Sorensen was integral in helping Ancestry transition from a "family history business into a genomics business."

At Human Longevity, he is expected to help expand the Health Nucleus consumer platform and “enhance this product with more digital, consumer friendly interfaces.” Venter was also keen to emphasize Sorensen’s business acumen when discussing his hiring.

Today, the company detailed some of those expanded offerings in a second announcement. “Health Nucleus X” and “Health Nucleus X Platinum” both combine the company’s whole genome sequencing products with MRIs and other tests to, in Venter’s words, “enable follow on testing and longitudinal understanding of how our health changes over time.”

The new plans aren’t cheap: X will cost $4,950 for initial membership with an annual $2,950 for following years. That includes sequencing, MRI, and 8 other tests. For Platinum, which includes sequencing, MRI, and 15 tests, it’ll be $25,000 down for 3 years, followed by $6,000 each year after.

The newly announced plans seem to be a natural evolution of Human Longevity’s twofold proposition. On one end, it promises tomes of health data and, in theory, health insights that patients (who can afford it) would never otherwise receive. The company says its science has helped identify early-stage cancers and aneurysms in people who had no idea that they had them.

On the other end, it garners massive amounts of health data, linked to the numerous tests that it provides, which can then be used for research. Human genomic information alone is extremely appealing for drug development, and it has been a huge part of 23andMe’s commercial viability. Human Longevity will never sequence anywhere close to as many people as 23andMe, but that battery of tests it also runs will produce a depth of data on each patient that none of the direct-to-consumer genomics companies can match.

Investors understand that advantage. Human Longevity raised $220 million in a 2016 Series B round led by drugmaker Celgene and biotech big Illumina. Major players like StartUp Health and GE Ventures have also put money into the firm.

“We believe we have indeed ignited a revolution to empower people with personalized health intelligence and drive the change from reactive to proactive healthcare," said Venter of today’s announcement.

The company’s credentials are certainly strong, and Venter’s reputation precedes him. He helped sequence and publish the first human genome nearly 2 decades ago, and he’s made numerous other discoveries that have helped steer the field. He formally launched Human Longevity in 2014, serving as its CEO before relinquishing the role to Cynthia Collins at the start of 2017.

That arrangement lasted less than a year, however. Collins left the company in December, with Venter reclaiming the CEO title. Few other details were made public about the decision, but several other executives were reportedly also dismissed at that time.

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