Int’l Day of Women and Girls in Science 2018

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Many kids grow up fascinated with science. This can start with a love of animals, bugs or flowers. As a kid, I was obsessed with digging for earthworms and beetles! Even if you didn’t want to be a scientist while growing up, chances are science has impacted your life in a positive way. Ever eaten a salad? That’s food science, toxicology, chemistry, entomology and ecology at their finest. Ever taken cold medicine? If so, you can thank pharmaceutical science, epidemiology, physiology and biotechnology.

We think it is important to celebrate kid and adult scientists because science touches our lives in many positive ways, like keeping us healthy and making sure we enjoy a safe and reliable food supply. Last year, we shined a light on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and we think celebrating this awesome day again this year will be, well, awesome!

For this year, we conducted an interview with Dawn Barry, president of Luna DNA. We’ve posted a few articles on genetic modification and how it overlaps with our food supply — as discussed in our recent nutrigenomics or CRISPR articles.  Well, Luna DNA is carrying this scientific torch and is blazing a trail that may help our health in the future. Luna DNA specializes in DNA information (genomics) storage from various sources and managing the stored sequences via blockchain technology. This technology enables Luna DNA to have a unique DNA library as well as the ability to track DNA information. The DNA database developed by Luna DNA is a useful resource for medical scientists working to specifically target and improve patient care and health.  

Check out this Q&A with Dawn and see how Luna DNA’s co-founder and president is someone science should cheer for!

Q: When you were a little girl did you enjoy science or want to be a scientist?

A: As a young girl, I loved animals and plants. I had very supportive parents who allowed me to build a little farm with chickens, ducks, and rabbits. We had multiple gardens — vegetable and flower — all over our rural property in Berlin, Connecticut. Studying biology in college was a natural fit with my curiosity for the science of life. I obtained an undergraduate science degree and worked in laboratories early in my career, which gave me a strong foundation of science. Today I would classify myself as a business person who helps move science onto a product or consumer platform that can impact human health and well-being.

Q: Do you view yourself as playing a part in inspiring others to love science or want to be scientists?

A: Yes, I think if you love what you do and you are driving an important mission, you should feel a natural desire to want to inspire people. As it relates to the science and application of genomics, we can see the impact of this science in many areas that are fundamental to life, including human health, environmental safety and nutritional security. To bring the latest science to our healthcare systems, homes and fields, we need scientists who can bridge into marketing, government affairs, product development and education. Individuals who embrace science will be the agents of change in the future.

Q: What thrills you most about your work? What are you hoping for in the future as your work at Luna DNA continues?

A: Genomics technology has become very fast, cost-effective and accessible, such that prior issues of having insufficient data to make statistically significant discoveries are not as much of an issue as they were even a few years ago. What thrills me now is the opportunity to flip the research model on its head and engage individuals to be partners in research versus simply sources of samples. Disease is the combination of our genetics interacting with our lifestyle, environment and nutrition. At Luna DNA, we engage individuals as research partners to build a community that shares their health information for the benefit of scientific and medical research. The ultimate goal is to advance the establishment of healthcare that is more individualized.

Genomics for the Win

With the use of genomic data on the rise to help fuel developments in medicine, nutrition and food production, barriers to creating novel advancements in these areas are melting away. We are excited to see that data sharing through blockchain technology has entered into the mix. New ways to harness information and effectively share this pertinent data puts us in thrilling times.