Harvard medical school professor and geneticist George Church, has revealed he will be turning his full genome into an NFT. 

As the first of its kind, the co-founder of Nebula Genomics will have his genetic code sequenced and presented in an artistic representation. The NFT will also encode the digital location of Church’s full genomic data which will be hosted on a decentralized server. The startup’s website lists the fascinating exploration into genetics and NFTs: 

“The human genome provides an exciting opportunity for an NFT, as it is a unique encoding of an individual. Each human’s genome is a non-changing representation of their most fundamental and personal data, which is inherently non-fungible.”

The historical significance of the NFT lies in the fact that George Church’s DNA was one of the first to be sequenced, and was used in numerous studies and papers. With this merging of art and science, the boundaries of NFTs continue to expand.

Placing genomic data and the blockchain network together has enabled greater control of the storage of our genetic data. As the cost of sequencing our DNA lowers, a greater amount of people are using genetic sequencing services to find out their genetic history and where they come from. However, questions have arisen with regards to data privacy, and the ownership of the genetic data provided. 

Blockchain allows this type of information to be shared in a safe anonymous way. The co-founder of Nebula Genomics, Kmal Obbad, commented on the privacy issues in the consumer genomics industry:

“Historically, privacy issues have plagued the consumer genomics industry…because what a lot of customers didn’t realize for the longest time was, when you were getting a consumer genetic test, you were frequently signing away your data to be licensed by a pharma company or to be used by a third party.”

With genetic sequencing becoming much more accessible to consumers, data privacy will increasingly be called into question. Blockchain companies are providing a solution to privacy issues. George Church’s NFT is a big bold sale of his genetic code, but one that ultimately ensures only one person will have access to it.  

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.