NFT's are proving to be more than just a crypto fad, with art forms like music, videos, photographs, memes being sold as NFTs. And now, in another first, a scientist is auctioning his genetic sequence as a non-fungible token.
If there’s anything that you can claim as truly your own, it is your DNA. An esteemed geneticist and Harvard University professor George Church have inaugurated a genetic sequencing service called Nebula Genomics. The company is putting Church’s DNA for sale as a non-fungible token (NFT).
What is Genomics?
Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
Why is Professor Church's DNA Valuable?
As one of the first genomes ever sequenced, Professor Church’s DNA holds up a great deal of historical significance to the field of personal genomics because Church’s genome was the fifth whole human genome ever sequenced. He is also referred to as the “The Father of Synthetic Biology”.
His genetic sequence is utilized in countless studies, papers and depicts a pivotal moment in science and in human history. Professor Church was also the first person to make his medical records and genome publicly available to researchers.
The professor is straightforward about genetic science. He has supported resurrecting mammoths, gene hack people into superheroes, worked on a dating app that matches people based on their genetic code and injected himself with a DIY COVID vaccine.
“The NFT was not my idea, but hopefully, it is a good idea,” Church told The Scientist via email.
Nevertheless, privacy issues have plagued the consumer genomics industry,” co-founder Kamal Obbad told the magazine as he is striving to “launch a unique personal genomics enterprise that was aligned with the user and focused more on providing a good product to the user,” rather than just aggregating as much data as possible.
Obbad also implied that an NFT made sense “because on its own, a genome is a non fungible asset.
Rather than simply making a buck, some of the revenue will go towards genomic research. Nebula Genomics also aims to attract additional attention to the field, and its importance in society.
So, in conclusion, we can say that by auctioning off Professor Church’s genome as an NFT, both the company, as well as the professor are kick-starting an exchange around reasonable and translucent ways to monetize and share health data.