Medicinal Genomics is now on Steemit!

in #introduceyourself7 years ago (edited)

My name is Kevin McKernan and since 1996 I have been engineering massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies to better understand the code of life (

This ultimately led me to sequence the cannabis genome and place it public on the Amazon cloud in 2011 (

In the course of this work, I have worked for large centralized government projects like the Human Genome Project at the Whitehead/MIT and came to see the flaws in centralized planning (

These projects while exciting led me to look for a better way and I stepped into entrepreneurship in 2000 with the foundation of Agencourt Bioscience Corporation. This private DNA sequencing and technology company was acquired by Beckman Coulter in 2005. That acquisition could not agree on the value of a skunks works project within the Agencourt so we spun out 19 people into ApG while crafting the deal docs. We had a microscope equipped with a CCD camera and 4 color flow cell that could read 1um magnetic particles. These particles were coated with PCR products that were derived from single DNA molecules diluted into an emulsion PCR system. As a result billions of magnetic particles could be layered onto a traditional microscope slide and sequenced with a $60,000 microscope. This platform had a roadmap to 100,000 fold reduction in DNA sequencing costs and no one could believe it.. until 2006, when we presented the SOLiD sequencer at AGBT and the 19 person skunks work project known as Agencourt Personal Genomics was acquired by Applied Biosystems shortly thereafter.

I spent 2 years at Applied Biosystems getting the SOLiD sequencer to 38% market share in a very intense market competing against Roche, Illumina and 3 other projects still alive inside Applied Biosystems. At this point a $6B offer was made for Applied Biosystems. Some of this valuation was overly placed on the SOLiD platform. By 2010 the integration of the two businesses into Life Technologies was costing us market share and the company made a Bernake decision and decided more acquisition was the best solution. They desperately turned to acquiring Ion Torrent and asked that I manage the 200 person technology integration. By 2011, multiple competing technologies in the market place delivered a 100,000 fold drop in sequencing and Ion Torrents anticipated homopolymer problems remained unresolved. Fighting over the next log scale reduction inside an M&A pyramid was less interesting to me than applying these new tools to interesting biological problems.

$1000 Genome

Having applied these new sequencing technologies to cancer (, I became very aware of the utility of sequencing as disruptive means to characterize tumors and personalize treatment. This began my introduction to the Cannabis plant. Any intelligent person looking at Cannabis politics can not help but question the obsolescence of politics. Liberty was an obvious solution here and it resonates with personalized medicine.

Our genomes have over 4 million variants between them. How can a group in D.C. know whats best for this level of complexity? How can you judge your neighbor knowing they are living in a very different perceptional generator and human experience? This explains Carl Menger's subjective value theory; why we all value things differently and why free markets are so explosive in wealth generation as they enable very different human experiences to find win-win relationships and maximize wealth for the greatest number of people. Complementing this view point was our experience making sequencers that were exceeding Moore's law. Massively parallel compute farms were required on each sequencer that farmed terabyte image stack problems to hundreds of CPUs/GPUs to keep up with the sequence data. Solving complex problems always required decentralizing problems to 100s of CPUs but our political process likes to centralize decisions into the least vested minds. (

Knowing this, I have committed my career to activities that promote entrepreneurship but also promote open source genomes. I am the CSO of Courtagen Life Sciences that utilizes these Next Generation sequencers in the Pediatric neurology space. We sequence children that have Endocannabinoid deficiencies and mitochondrial disease. Epilepy, autism, developmental delay, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, OCD, anxiety and a host of other genetically encoded diseases where many are in fact treatable once the under lying mutation is known (


Concurrent to this, I am the CSO of a wholly owned subsidiary to Courtagen known as Medicinal Genomics ( We sequence cannabis strains and register them with the Bitcoin Blockchain as a defensive IP play using proof of existence . This is a powerful branding tool as we can finally know what is in each strain and how to measure its unique genetic address (we only handle DNA so please do not send us any cannabis). Cannabis suffers from a strain name game that thrives on counterfeiting strains to the most popular name. As a result of this, premium cannabis rarely captures the markup of a premium wine because no one believes the labels. With, that has changed and we are beginning to see Big Branding on Best Buds as cannabis genetics can be undeniably genetically confirmed and etched into digital stone in the blockchain.

We are now at the intersection of personalized medicine and a cannabinoid therapeutic revolution with blockchain medical records and uncensorable publications. This open source, over the counter pharmacy is more impactful than Merck and Pfizer combined and grows like a weed in anyone's garden. We raised $20M in our last raise and we are hiring!
The Crypto Show

Steemit Noob disclaimer- my real name isn't Lariat. That is the topic of my next post. Ive been asked to review an interesting genome and Steemit may become the debut for that exciting topic. There is a strong need in science for blockchain publishing. The review process is broken, centralized, and now a mechanism to promote politics under the banner of scientific truth. Platforms like Steemit and the many derivatives like Mega, Storj, MaidSafe, Sci-Hub, and Alexandria offer an end of ivory tower censorship and distribution of science. Its a good time to be alive.

Medicinal Genomics



Hi Kevin, nice post! Any chance you could provide a simpler explanation of what Medicinal Genomics does? Would it be correct that you guys test strains for dispensaries or am I missing the point?

The Kannapedia project offers sequencing of close to 1 Million bases in each plant. People have to send us 100ng of DNA that is free of cannabinoids so it can go in the mail. This generates several thousand bases of signature or Single Nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The plant is diploid so each of these SNPs is usually Bi-Allelic an can be either one base or another(binary). Think of 2^(#SNPs) in terms of signature. This is like having a unique hash for each plant . We then post a SHA-256 hash digest of this in a blockchain transaction for time stamping. We also compare the genetics to everything else in our database to generate a genetic distance table (see tree above) that allows users who are used to one strain (that is out of stock or not local) to identify the nearest genetic cousin to the strain. We supply a host of other information on the plant in terms of terpenes and cannabinoids and heterozygosity that can be helpful for breeders and consumers.

We also have a product line that ships PCR assays into 3rd party testing labs in each state for mold and bacteria detection and Male vs Female detection. This is a reagent business that is required as each state is mandating mold testing as this legalizes and the current standard is a 100year old technology known as a Petri Dish. We converted this to quantitative PCR and we sell those reagents to the testing labs in each state. has a bit more on this. We also host the CannMed conferences. Next one is April 2017 and we are looking for a blockchain speaker.

Very nice! Do you plan on using this information to make some super strains through genetic modification? Some with super high CBD and low THC or some for really specific uses?

Customers may choose to do that with the data. Knowing cannabis pollen can travel many miles, there are some property rights issues to contend with when letting minimally tested GMO into the wild. As a result, I am personally not a fan of this approach given what little we know about the cannabis genome and prefer Marker assisted selection where the genetics help to guide the next cross. I don't have a problem with GMO technology but I disagree with the regulatory capture it has enabled since IP is more easily awarded to a GMO over a novel cross. I'm more favorable on people cloning the terps, flavanoid and cannabinoid pathways out of the plant and into yeast or cyanobacteria as those events can be controlled in fermentors and terminator genes introduced so they are unlikely to propagate into the wild. This is expensive and competing with a weed that does an amazing job getting to 30% cannabinoids/weight. This is a challenging synthetic biology program such that I expect we will see the most amazing immediate work done with just selective breeding of the under tapped genetics around the world.

Not seeing a reply button to your most recent post... but yes, GMO Cannabis has already happened but the current market disdains it like a Monsanto zombie. As the market expands so will the acceptance of GMO but I see so much opportunity in just tweaking the tremendous diversity cannabis currently has. Its 10 fold more polymorphic than humans and 10 fold more cannabis genomes are sprouted every year than humans are born so its genetic blockchain is winning and its arguably farming us not the other way around.

GMO marijuana might be inevitable since once even more states legalize and even more money flows into the space. It will be interesting to see what happens!

The comments end after 5 for now. Cheers!

Welcome to STEEMIT. Looks like STEEMIT is attracting science too. BTW: Thx for that interesting explanation about Cannabis DNA verification.

Wow, welcome to Steemit - what a killer first post! Congratulations on your successful fundraising so far. Your work sounds like a fascinating intersection between blockchain branding, medical marijuana and genomics; I definitely upvoted this one and will be checking out your future posts.


Welcome to Steemit, Kevin! I'm absolutely fascinated by genetics in general - would love to hear more from you!

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