LSE Business Review Article
January 10, 2018

Sumit Jamuar: Indians are 20% of the world’s population, but represent only 1% of existing genetic data

The chairman and CEO of Global Gene Corp talks about the challenges and promises of genomic medicine

As the new frontier in medicine, genomics brings with it the hope of allowing researchers to find the cure for a number of largely incurable diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s, to infectious diseases and beyond. The challenge now is to map the DNA of as many ethnicities and nationalities as possible.  Currently, 81 per cent of the existing genetic data is from Caucasians. One company is trying to bridge the gap by analysing the genome of different ethnicities in India, with hopes of expanding to the rest of Asia, Latin America and Africa. “You look at India, with 1.3 billion people, 20 per cent of the world’s population. A lot of people of Indian ethnicities reside globally, and yet they comprise less than 1 per cent of genomic insights and understanding”, says Sumit Jamuar, chairman and CEO of Global Gene Corp. He spoke with LSE Business Review’s managing editor, Helena Vieira, on 9 November 2017, during Web Summit in Lisbon.

What exactly does Global Genecorp do?

One of the biggest problems you have in genomics is that a large percentage of the world’s population is not well understood genetically. Currently, 81 per cent of the existing genetic data is from Caucasians. From studies, we know that different populations exhibit different traits. Consequently you need the underlying insights and data – the data foundation – to be able to use this technology. Science is all about data. The right data give you the insights. That’s what we’re creating.

To give you a sense of the numbers, I estimate that 60 per cent of the world’s population represent less than 5 per cent of genomic data. You look at India, with 1.3 billion people, 20 per cent of the world’s population. A lot of people of Indian ethnicities reside globally, and yet they comprise less than 1 per cent of genomic insights and understanding.

We’re very excited by genomics as a technology, because it’s one of the truly disruptive technologies with the potential to affect each one of us as an individual. We’re fascinated by the possibility that not only can you treat disease, but also keep people healthier for longer. Given that we’re at Web Summit, think about DNA as a computer code. The code gives us a sense of who human beings are, with the operating instructions included. It allows us to see the risks over our lifetime and understand what we need to do in order to mitigate and manage those risks. If something happens, we know what the right course of treatment is. That is truly the possibility of genomics and precision medicine.

Read the full article at the London School of Economics and Political Science Business Review