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On DNA Day, Honoring the Pioneers who Laid the Foundation for Population Genomics

Today, on DNA Day, we celebrate the birth and growth of the genetics field. In 1953, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosalind Franklin discovered the DNA’s double helix structure; 50 years later, the first human genome was sequenced in 2003. These groundbreaking achievements cracked open the field of genomics, making the rich data held within our genes accessible for scientists, completely changing how we study diseases and develop new medicines. Today, Helix is building on this scientific foundation to bring forth the next big movement: population genomics.

The discovery of the DNA double helix structure revolutionized our understanding of genetics. By deciphering its shape, researchers were able to unravel how DNA is replicated and transcribed into proteins. This breakthrough set the stage for the Human Genome Project, an international effort that aimed to sequence the entire human genome. It took 13 years and $3 billion to complete, but its impact on genetics research and medicine has been immense. For the first time, scientists held the entire code of life in their hands.

The next decade of development was dedicated to making the sequencing process faster and cheaper, giving rise to high-throughput sequencing technologies that could decode the genome for thousands, rather than billions, of dollars. Researchers began to leverage sequencing technology to identify genetic ties to various diseases, ushering in new tests with the goal of identifying risk early, but with limited accuracy and accessibility.

Helix’s mission is to push genomics to its next big breakthrough: enabling an empowered population health system that incorporates genomics into everyday healthcare and provides actionable genetic results for serious conditions. We partner with health systems across the United States to make genetic testing a routine part of preventative care, because we believe that every individual has the right to access and utilize their genetic information to improve their health.

Helix has already made significant contributions to genomics research. With over 10 peer-reviewed publications, Helix has unearthed new insights into genetic risks for conditions like cardiomyopathy and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines. We have also developed a patent-pending method called Power Window, which identifies rare and novel variants with clinical impact. We continue to partner with leading institutions to drive further innovations to ultimately improve preventative care across America.

As we commemorate DNA Day, we celebrate the groundbreaking achievements of the pioneers of genetics, and applaud the progress made in the last 50 years to leverage genetics to transform how we diagnose and treat disease. It now also has the transformative potential of integrating population genomics into healthcare systems. Helix is at the forefront of making genetics accessible and actionable for individuals, and with our continued efforts, we expect even more advancements in the field of genomics in the years to come.