The moment I identified new genetic markers for obesity and metabolic health, I had the vision for GenoPalate. I wished there was a way to give everyone access to this potentially life changing, and life saving, information.
Thanks to my son, my dedicated team, and the support of Milwaukee’s business community, that wish has become a successful startup.
It has also become a realistic solution to our global health crisis.
DNA can help protect our health
We are facing an obesity epidemic and a prevalence of chronic conditions that have never been seen before. For the first time ever, children have shorter life expectancies than their parents.
We know our diet, stress levels and sedentary lifestyles are robbing us of our retirements and of the innocence of childhood. We also know eating well is a key part of the solution.
But for many of us that is easier, and more affordably, said than done.
Tracking your family tree, through a tube of your saliva, has become trendy. It has also become accessible and affordable. Promotions for these at-home DNA test kits pop up online, on TV and in our magazines. Stories written from shocking and sometimes heart-breaking ancestry test results are topping bestseller lists.
At GenoPalate we’ve taken the power of knowing your identity one step further.
Using the science of nutritional genomics, also called nutrigenomics, we turn our customers' saliva samples into personalized nutrition programs. We use this whole-body science to analyze DNA and to combine the results with thousands of nutritional variables.
The results are helping people eat smarter, feel better and protect their future health.
A career spent in science and technology
I was drawn to the study of obesity after receiving my doctorate in molecular biology from Marquette University in 2007. From there, I conducted research in single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA, and SNPs represent the differences in one of these single DNA building blocks. These are the nucleotides which tend to be different from person to person. They account for genetic variations, like eye and hair color.
I discovered that by combining science with technology we could generate a comprehensive, state-of-the-art panel of nutritional genomics. This data is being used to help people improve their food choices, prevent obesity and other chronic conditions, and stay healthier.
I also wanted to build a company that would connect the science directly with the customer. This helps our customers shop, cook, dine out, and eat more healthfully, intelligently and simply.
DNA is personal and should be kept private
I realize that for some, privacy concerns are a barrier to utilizing this state-of-the-art technology.
As a molecular biologist, I believe DNA is precious and personal. At GenoPalate we treat each sample with caution and care. Every tube we collect travels through our secure, and complex, barcode and registration system for de-identified analysis.
DNA determines how the body responds to food
Once a customer submits their test kit, our lab securely uploads their DNA and processes the results. GenoPalate’s test analyzes 100+ genetic markers in order to determine our customer’s specific needs. We then create personalized healthy eating guidelines based on this genetic analysis.
Our nutrition plans help customers know which of the 26 vital nutrients they may need more or less of. This includes carbohydrates, vitamin D, protein, fats, sugar and sodium. We also analyze our customers’ sensitivity level to lactose and gluten and how quickly they metabolize substances such as alcohol and caffeine.
Nutrigenomics can also help prevent disease
A genetic makeup that makes it more difficult to process certain nutrients, can make a person more susceptible to chronic diseases.
An example of this is the IRS1 gene mechanism. This gene provides instructions for the production of a protein which helps transfer signals from insulin to multiple important biological pathways. These signals help tell the body to absorb glucose, and allow an uptake in energy.
People with certain genotypes for the IRS1 gene may be more prone to develop insulin resistance. This is a detrimental condition where the body encounters difficulty bringing down blood sugar levels—which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Depending on a customer’s genotype, studies have shown that this risk decreases when people increase their carbohydrate intake.
GenoPalate uses insights like this to develop comprehensive genetic-based nutrition profiles for each customer. These nutrition profiles are translated into actionable reports that outline which foods are best for each unique body. This makes eating for your genes easier.
A career spent in science and technology
GenoPalate has seen 600 percent growth since our launch in 2016.
It’s safe to say nutritional genomics is at an acceleration point—both nationally and internationally. Our technology must keep up in order to meet our customers’ needs with innovative products and exceptional service.
GenoPalate recently announced a partnership with TESCHGlobal (TG), our ideal health tech partner. Together we will be working on a new mobile CX. Our app will improve our customers’ ability to work toward their individualized health goals.
All of GenoPalate’s stakeholders–from our growing team of employees, to our investors, to our customers—are excited for the future.
We have seen, firsthand, the benefits of nutritional genomics. They may be subtle to begin with, but I know the results are meaningful and lasting.
Together we will regain control of our health, and the health of our loved ones.
Yi Sherry Zhang, Ph.D.
Founder of GenoPalate®
Dr. Zhang is a mother, scientist and entrepreneur. Her research in obesity genetics led her to the founding of GenoPalate, a company that provides DNA-based customized nutrition plans and helps customers eat for their genes.