Why I started Kinetic Dx

Coaching my son's soccer team with my husband was a fantastic experience, and made me appreciate the value of a proper warm up.

Coaching my son's soccer team with my husband was a fantastic experience, and made me appreciate the value of a proper warm up.

One of the most common questions I get is “why did you start Kinetic Dx?”  There are so many reasons that sometimes I give slightly different answers just to be crisp and clear at any one point it time. I am so passionate about this company that I could talk for a very long time about how and why I envisioned it.  Here are a few of the things that motivated me to get Kinetic Dx off the ground.

First of all, I am a genetic counselor. I love genetics and cutting edge science, and I love helping people. I’ve been fortunate to see the field of genetics evolve from something that was useful to a few people with rare problems to a robust field that can help anyone with basic questions of health. I’ve been involved with commercializing genetic testing for medications (pharmacogenetics), which helps doctors and consumers understand the best medications and doses to use for certain clinical indications. It was an easy transition from pharmacogenetics into wellness, using genetic information to help understand inherited risks for common disease such as diabetes and heart disease. I worked on projects in prior companies such as Labcorp, DNA Direct, and Medco using genetics in wellness programs. I saw first hand how these programs provided early interventions, increased motivation, and helped reduce disease.

Genetic testing also changed my life.  I struggle with my weight and blood pressure.  It started in my twenties, and at first I thought it was the usual “freshman 15” that plagues many college students. At first if my weight went up, I would diet and hit the gym or add a new activity, and I would get back to where I wanted to be.  As I got older and had three pregnancies, the weight and blood pressure issues got out of control, and dieting and exercise had less of an effect.  I spent thousands of dollars on personal trainers, nutritional programs, and on trying all the fads. I also ignored my doctor’s advice about taking blood pressure meds- I thought if I just worked harder at the diet and exercise, I could bring my blood pressure down. I felt I was just too young to have high blood pressure! Then I went through the most stressful period in my life; new baby, new job, moving coast to coast twice, my mother passing, and two accidents resulting in injuries that made me sedentary for about two years.  When I healed and tried to get back into working out, I tore my Achilles tendon. During that difficult time I was very down on myself, and felt like I hadn’t tried the right things or made the right choices. Other people lost weight, got strong, and made healthy strides, I had to be doing something wrong.  Then I had a few important realizations. Most importantly, I had forgotten to apply my genetic counseling knowledge to my own medical history. Having early onset of disease, like high blood pressure, that is typically associated with older age, is a sign of a genetic component at play. Failure to respond to treatment, such as medically supervised diet and exercise, is also a sign of genetic influence. So I took my high blood pressure pills, which made me feel fantastic, and I went digging in my own genome. There I discovered that I have multiple risk factors. I carry a genetic variant that is associated with a poorer, longer response to exercise for increasing muscle strength and combating metabolic syndrome. I also have a variant associated with Achilles tendinopathy. If I had known of this variant, I would have done some ankle stability work before just jumping back into my work out regimen after being sedentary.

I also discovered that I have a rare genetic variant for an inherited syndrome called Abdominal Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (AOMS), Type III.  All at once, all of my struggles were explained. Most importantly though, I was able to appreciate that my hard work actually did pay off, I was just looking at the wrong outcomes.  Originally I wanted to fit into a certain size clothing and do extreme activities like American Ninja Warrior, but now I appreciate that without my attention to diet and exercise, I would probably have diabetes and coronary artery disease by now. Members of my biological family have had gastric bypass surgery by my age, and that is not a procedure that I will need.

So all of that, and a little more that I’ll leave for another blog, is why I started Kinetic Dx. I don’t want people to tear their Achilles tendon, or suffer any other preventable injuries, if there is something they can do about it. I don’t want people to feel like a failure if they aren’t making the same progress they see in others at the gym or in sports or in weight loss. I believe genetic testing can help people find their zone, and I hope that this knowledge motivates people to focus on their personal best-not someone else’s- and that we all just keep moving together.