When Dr. Jeremy Koenig was growing up he developed a passion for sports and fitness, it was in his DNA. While his athleticism matured and he grew stronger his mother was experiencing the opposite transformation after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disorder that weakens the body over time. This experience would form a lasting impact on how he viewed the human body and inspire his pursuit of genetic research to redefine people’s path to health and fitness.
After receiving his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Dr. Koenig went on to found Athletigen Technologies Inc. a genetic sports science company that owns the world’s largest sports genetics database. The company, which incorporated in 2014, provides personalized genetic profiles to help empower coaches, athletes and fitness enthusiasts to become better, faster and stronger. Their work emerges from the growing industry of personal genomics, using science to help people understand their genetic strengths and weaknesses and make the best use of their natural capabilities.
In order to get their genetic analysis customers must submit a DNA sample, also termed a ‘spit kit,’ and the company will compare their genetic traits in terms of athletics against others around the world. The analysis they get back includes comprehensive information about how their genes relate athletic elements such as their metabolism, recovery time and willingness to exercise. These unique insights are captured on their personalized online performance dashboard, which supports customized training and ongoing fitness programs to help them improve health and achieve fitness goals faster.
Although Athletigen’s primary focus is on performance enhancement in athletes they are also dedicated to using genetics to improve healthcare. Dr. Koenig is working with world renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ivan Wong of Halifax on a project to identify early risk factors in people who are genetically pre-disposed to needing a hip replacement. Currently, patients experiencing hip pain are given an MRI to identify the condition which is normally too far advanced by the time patients are experiencing symptoms to avoid surgery—something Dr.Koenig and Dr. Wong’s genetic research could prevent.
As for the future of Athletigen, Dr. Koenig and his team have ongoing plans to enhance their research through collaborations with healthcare. While Athletigen entered the market specifically to create products for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, Dr.Koenig’s mission is to continue to leverage genetics to provide a better quality of life for each individual, while building the largest and most comprehensive sports genetics research community in the world.