Shoko Takahashi started her company while she was a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo. She launched Japan's first internet-based genome analysis service for individuals. While this service allows users to learn about their own disease risks and constitutional predispositions, which can be used to prevent diseases, Takahashi has created a mechanism to utilize the genome and other data accumulated through this service for life science research.
The genome data obtained with user permission and the data on lifestyle and medical history obtained through web questionnaires are anonymously stored in a database and provided as a genetic research platform called "GeneQuest Research." So far, the company is involved in joint research with more than 30 institutions, including domestic and international pharmaceutical companies, food and beverage manufacturers, universities, and research institutes.
Traditionally, genome analysis has been done by state-sponsored biobanks, but with GeneQuest, which utilizes the Internet, it is now possible to accumulate data afterwards by continuing to connect with users who have analyzed their genes. Additional services will be provided to users and applied to drug discovery research using Internet-based cohorts. It is also important in facilitating research on personal genetic differences in general constitutional characteristics of under-researched Asian populations, especially the Japanese population.
Since the announcement of the sequencing of all the nucleotides that make up human DNA in 2003, genomic analysis technology has advanced dramatically, due in part to the availability of low cost DNA sequencers. Takahashi's goal is to contribute to society by sharing the results of her research and using them to help solve current problems. Takahashi comments, "Diseases and life expectancy will be an issue in the future not only in Japan, but also in many other countries around the world and I hope that we can use the power of genomic science to find solutions to the problems associated with aging, implement them in society, and export them to countries around the world."