The Sports Genes with Jeremy Koenig, Athletigen

Jeremy Koenig,Founder and CEO, Athletigen


Listen (3:59) Markers for athletics

Listen (8:21) Business model

Listen (3:23) Regulatory hurdles

Listen (1:55) Which technology will you use in the lab?

Listen (3:16) The future of sports genetics

Jeremy Koenig is a molecular biologist and an athlete. His interest in both led him to found a new direct-to-consumer genetic testing company called Athletigen.

Still it its early days, the company has curated several genetic markers which tell about a person’s athleticism. With their first report now available, the company makes it super easy to get started if you have already used 23andMe’s service. The portal will link in to 23andMe and retrieve your raw data. Within minutes you can be looking into whether you’re more of a power or endurance athlete, or whether your body will respond well to the paleo diet, among other predispositions. The report is free.

So how will the company make money, we ask Jeremy, who is also CEO. And, being a Canadian company, what regulatory hurdles does the company face? The DTC genetic testing space has been a treacherous one. The winners have been those companies which offer non health related products, such as genetic ancestry or paternity, or those which have sold large data sets to big pharma.

In today's show, Jeremy points out that the human body is the ultimate technology, and that athletes push this technology to its limits. Athletes can learn from their genes. And the rest of us can learn from studies of athletes and their genes. Will the field of sports genetics take off and open up new possibilities for research and precision medicine?

“One of the things my coach said to me as an athlete in college - I was a hundred meter sprinter - he’d say, 'Jeremy, we are all wearing different bodies, and you need to embrace yours. Don’t think that you need to do what the best sprinters in the world are doing right now. You need to do what’s good for Jeremy.' I think everyone needs to take stock of their own DNA,” says Jeremy.