If only Michael J. Fox, the actor and professional Parkinson's disease victim, had been an Internet genius like Google cofounder Sergey Brin, think of the good he might have done.
That's the outrageous statement that 23andMe cofounder Linda Avey made to Forbes in explaining the wonders of her genetic-testing startup, which she started with Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Brin, the Google gajillionaire. Here's what Avey said:
Sergey is going out and helping so many people. Michael J. Fox has done a lot with his foundation, but he did that after he was diagnosed. If you can find out early, you can do so much more.
Brin discovered through, yes, a genetic test that he is at risk of developing Parkinson's, as is the extremely wealthy child the pregnant Wojcicki is expected to bear at any moment. He's made significant donations to Parkinson's research — including a rather questionable one through the Michael J. Fox Foundation which was then directed to 23andMe.
What, exactly, does Avey think Fox should have done? Pursued a career in biotech instead of acting, so he might have developed a test for Parkinson's? And then what? Taken up smoking, a nasty habit which can nonetheless delay the onset of Parkinson's? Fox has raised millions of dollars for a Parkinson's cure — some of which went more or less directly into Avey's pocket. I'd like to know when 23andMe will detect a genetic propensity for ingratitude.