Ep 8: Genetic Testing Evolution w/ Dr. Bryant McAllister, Associate Professor at University of Iowa

Bryant McAllister is a University of Iowa biology professor and hosts a monthly community discussion group on genetic testing.


In this episode we discussed the biggest benefits to consumers of OTC genetic testing as well as the biggest risks or pitfalls. We talked about what, if anything, consumers should be wary about when submitting their spit. We discussed how confident Bryant is in current genetics-based diet, sleep, and exercise recommendations and why. And where McAllister sees OTC genetic testing going in the next five years.

“Most people are doing [hereditary testing] because of the prediction of where their ancestors are from,” Dr. McAllister said. “There may be an adoption in the past that you don’t know about... or the company that is looking at the data is looking at different time frames than you believe you are from… The greater utility to me is the relative matching.”

The monthly community discussion group mostly focuses on the ancestry rebuilding component of genetic testing.


Right now, according to Dr. McAllister, most genetic test results are based upon fairly limited studies and fairly limited genetic variants. “In most types of these reports, they’re going after one variant that’s been associated with [one] aspect,” Dr. McAllister said.

We also discussed how genetic testing and privacy intersect. “Where the privacy issues come in the most strongly is whenever people start downloading their 23andme raw data and uploading it to other sites,” Dr. McAllister said. “People aren’t aware of the other implications of people accessing that other database.”

And we discussed the market for genetic testing. “Genetic testing is going through a dot com boom right now,” Dr. McAllister said.

“When they ask me which [genetic] test to buy I always say, ‘what do you want to know’ because each test is very different.”

Never miss an episode! Subscribe on YouTube, iTunes, SoundCloud, or our newsletter. Would you like to test a better mattress or many other wellness products and get help assessing how well they work for you? The Biomarker app offers products at steep discounts and connects with your wearables to objectively measure the effectiveness of your wellness choices. Download today on the iTunes app store. Questions? Email me at cathy@biomarker.io.

Cathy Reisenwitz