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The New York Times highlights Color as a leader in employee genetic screening

Parul Somani

Employees at NVIDIA’s Santa Clara, CA headquarters attended Color’s onsite educational seminar in 2017 to learn more about their new health benefit offered by Color.

Yesterday The New York Times published an article, “Employees Jump at Genetic Testing. Is That a Good Thing?”, which recognizes that genetic disease risk screening is becoming a popular employee benefit, and that Color is “a leader in employee genetic screening and counseling.”

The reporter, Natasha Singer, interviewed several of our employer clients, including executives at Levi Strauss & Company, OpenTable, and SAP on why they choose to offer their employees, and sometimes even their employees’ family members, access to genetic testing for hereditary conditions like cancer and heart disease.

“[Color] really is a differentiator,” said Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Company’s President & CEO.

“This was a really interesting opportunity to provide some choice to our employees that was accessible and affordable,” said OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles, “so they could better understand their own personal health.”

“In the long-term view of a program like this, it’s going to pay for itself,” said Jason J. Russell, Head of SAP North America Total Rewards. “You’re creating goodwill with employees.”

The article does note the current debate about universal genetic screening. “Executives at several companies that have signed up with Color,” Singer writes, “said they were aware of the debate over genetic screening, but said they believed the start-up was simply ahead of the curve.”

We certainly think so. The article raises questions some in the medical community have around whether genetic screening of the general population produces a net benefit in health outcomes. However, Dr. Marie Claire King, a professor at the University of Washington who discovered the BRCA1 gene, argues all women over thirty should consider BRCA testing.

Moreover, a recent study from Queen Mary University London led by Dr. Ranjit Manchanda of Barts Cancer Institute looked at the potential impacts of population testing of BRCA, and found that testing all women over 30 in the United States for BRCA would prevent 237,000 cases of breast cancer and 65,000 cases of ovarian cancer.

“Almost half of the people who are at risk will not give you the family history that fit the criteria. They will be missed. So why shouldn’t we offer it to everybody?”
-Dr. Ranjit Manchanda, MD, Gynecological Oncologist at the Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine at Barts Cancer Institute in London

Our mission is to help everyone lead the healthiest life that science and medicine allow. And we believe that working with organizations of all sizes to offer affordable, accessible, and actionable genetic testing services as a health benefit to their employees and their family members is a great way to fulfill that mission. If you think your own organization might be interested in joining us, you can learn more about Color’s health service here.


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