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On a recent sunny day in Peoria, Ariz., a tall handsome man who looked to be in his twenties joined me to watch a baseball spring training game. He was dressed just right: sunglasses, jeans, and a t-shirt. The t-shirt had a colorful array of blocks on it. Cool looking, intriguing, and with surprising significance. The design was the genetic signature of ovarian cancer and the man wearing the shirt is a very unusual genetic artist and head of a company that sells the shirt to help fund research.
As it turns out, Darrin Grandmason, a former scrappy street kid from Detroit, isn’t in his twenties. He is in his late forties but still retains that go-go enthusiasm of his youth. He’s onto something. Can all of us begin to understand that each disease has a genetic signature, and sub-types have slightly different ones? Our human genome project has allowed Darrin to paint the pictures and has created the opportunity for all of us to display individual biology as art. In this case, for a worthy purpose.
Grandmason founded a company called In Our Genes and he is partnering with research companies and patient advocacy groups to bring them money to fuel their research for better medicines and cures. His latest partnership is with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – hence the t-shirt at the baseball game.
Grandmason and I are totally on the same page. In this age of personalized medicine, all of us can begin to understand that the key to maintaining our health is most often “in our genes.” And the truth is within a few years all of us will have inexpensive genetic tests done at the doctor’s office. First the results will help us understand our health risks. And if we develop a serious illness, like ovarian cancer, it will paint out the genetic profile of that illness in us and show the way for the best, most targeted treatment.
Grandmason is my kind of businessman. No pretenses, no slick clothes. Creative. Doing good for our health. His plan is to design t-shirts to fund research in a host of conditions. I wish him well as he demystifies leading-edge science and helps us get closer to better health – one shirt at a time.