A Harvard Professor Is Dropping an NFT of His Genetic Code

By Austin Reihl | Cyberfeed | 23 Apr 2021

As the first of its kind, the co-founder of Nebula Genomics will have his genetic code sequenced and presented in an artistic representation.


The NFT will encode the digital location of the entire genomic data structure of George Church, with the final result hosted on a decentralized network in non-fungible token form.


The startup companies website lists the fascinating exploration into genetics and NFTs:


“The human genome provides an exciting opportunity for an NFT, as it is a unique encoding of an individual. Each humans genome is a non-changing representation of their most fundamental and personal data, which is inherently non-fungible.”


DNA on an... NFT?


Harvard medical school professor and geneticist George Church has revealed he will be turning his genome into an NFT. 


The historical significance of the NFT lies in the fact that George Church's DNA was one of the first to be sequenced and used in numerous studies and research papers. With this merging of art and science, the boundaries of NFTs continue to expand.


"Placing genomic data and the blockchain network together has enabled greater control of the storage of our genetic data. As the cost of sequencing our DNA lowers, a greater (number) of people are using genetic sequencing services to find out their genetic history and where they come (from). However, questions have arisen (with data) privacy, and the ownership of the genetic data provided."


Blockchain allows this type of information to be available for public distribution/sharing safely and anonymously. 


The co-founder of Nebula Genomics, Kmal Obbad, commented on the privacy issues in the consumer genomics industry:


“Historically, privacy issues have plagued the consumer genomics industry...because what a lot of customers didn’t realize for the longest time was, when you were getting a consumer genetic test, you were frequently signing away your data to be licensed by a pharma company or to be used by a third party.”


With genetic sequencing becoming much more accessible to consumers, the security of their user-data privacy will continue to the subject of scrutiny and subject to increasing skepticism. 


ERC-1155 NFT Standard


"The NFT for George’s genome will be represented as a high-res artistic representation of his genome and likeness. Additionally, this NFT will encode the digital location of George’s full genomic data, hosted on a decentralized server. The highest bidder of George’s NFT will take ownership of this ERC-1155 NFT representation, as well as the proof of ownership of this genomic data."

Note: The exact date of the auction will be announced on April 25 in celebration of National DNA Day.

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Austin Reihl
Austin Reihl

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