Olivier Noel

Country representing

Haiti

Languages

French
Creole

Education

  • Pennsylvania State University
  • PhD in Biomedical Sciences
  • MD (currently in Medical School)

Current organisation

DNAsimple

Current role

CEO

Skills and Expertise

Healthcare
Research

Areas of interest

Business
Health
Leadership
Sustainable Development

Website & Social Links

I am passionate about

I am most passionate about the issues of healthcare disparity, genetic research and precision medicine. My career choices thus far have allowed me to quantify the magnitude of these issues worldwide and the crucial need for innovation and action at the global level. I am currently half way through my medical school training and have recently completely my PhD in Genetics at the Pennsylvania State University (USA). The USA actually provide a great example of the healthcare disparity that exists at the global level. There are (wealthy) cities/regions where the quality of care, medical staff and resources and equipment available are top notch while at other places, the level of care remains no different than what was in place decades prior. The same is seen in the case of developed countries in comparison to developing ones. The disparity is even more poignant at the level of research study design and finding cure to diseases. To date, less than 5% of all clinical trials have included non-white individuals. This is an outrageous number that everyone (irrespective of race) should have a big issue with. Short of rehashing a genetics course, it is now well known that our DNA and genetic makeup play an intrinsic role in determining our health and our susceptibility to particular diseases. For that reason, it is extremely important for researchers to study all different backgrounds in order to bring about cures that are personalized and effective. Otherwise, we will continue to observe that cure A works well for folks from a certain group and not for those from other ethnic or genetic backgrounds. It is especially pressing for scientists like myself to continue to innovate and develop tools that ensure that genetic research is inclusive so that everyone, regardless of your background or the country that you live in can take advantage of the technological and scientific advances that are currently available.

Actions

Two years ago, I founded a genetics startup company called DNAsimple out of Silicon Valley’ startup accelerator YCombinator. DNAsimple connects researchers to patients or study participants to ultimately obtain their DNA or specimens for research studies while compensating the participants. The goal of the company is to increase the pace of genetic research as well as the diversity of the pool of research participants so that cures can be found for diseases based on ones’ specific DNA variants or markers. While my goal with DNAsimple is to help diminish the load and burden of finding specimens for research, I also intended for it to be a mean by which to introduce folks who have been historically understudied to have a chance to participate in research studies and eventually have access to personalized cure. Simply put, I want to help scientists do their job more effectively while also targeting the issue of disparity in research and medicine. In the process, I had the utmost pleasure of meeting with one of One Young World Counselors, Sir Richard Branson while I was on set for the ABC entrepreneurship show “Shark Tank” a few months ago. His message to me was quite simple yet powerful: “Continue with the great work and help change the world!” There are currently over 140,000 donors on DNAsimple with conditions ranging from common to very rare, including tremendous diversity in backgrounds, locations, socioeconomics and age an we are facilitating a number of research studies ranging from rare diseases to various cancers. These studies aim at better understanding the genetic basis of these conditions and designing assays for early detection which will ultimately help diagnose patients early enough in their disease progression to allow for more effective and personalized therapy.