When I first heard about monitoring wastewater to track diseases in 2005 or so, I thought it was the coolest idea. There was just one problem: it was wastewater! Methods for sampling weren’t great, and people who worked in the field got pretty sick. But the data they found about diseases had amazing potential for public health. About a decade later, I learned about Biobot Analytics, the first company to offer wastewater monitoring commercially. I loved the sophistication and ingenuity Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli brought to really hard problems that were holding back the entire field. They created collection methods that mitigated toxicity, and were able to isolate viruses and bacteria from all of the other waste. Biobot’s work actually enabled later essential efforts to monitor COVID-19’s spread. I was blown away by how much they had done early on to validate their technology—it reminded me of the early days of 23andMe when we had to prove a new industry. They are now dominating the space, having global impact in doing something for the public good.
Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of 23andMe and invests in Biobot Analytics
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