We were recently approached by GenePeeks – a genetic information company with a mission to help families protect the health of future generations. The company is working to create a different kind of sperm bank, one with fewer genetic risks and fantastic customer service.
The inspiration for the company came from CEO Anne Morriss’s own experience with a sperm bank. Morriss and her partner have a donor-conceived son who suffers from a rare genetic condition called MCADD, which prevents his body from converting fats to energy. No one in Morriss’s family had the condition, but she unknowingly carried one defective copy of the relevant gene, and she selected a donor who was also an unknowing carrier.
To address these kinds of reproductive risks, Morriss co-founded GenePeeks with Princeton University Professor Lee Silver. Silver has a patent-pending technology that digitally combines the DNA of any two people. This technology can predict the risks associated with any given pregnancy and help prospective parents reduce the chance of passing on thousands of heritable diseases. (Read about Morriss and Silver’s work on GenePeeks in the MIT Technology Review).
GenePeeks is now teaming up with sperm banks to help women avoid donor matches that pose health risks to their children. Their analysis goes well beyond the industry’s current screening practices. While most sperm banks screen donors for 2-10 genetic diseases, Genepeeks will be screening for more than 700 diseases, an approach made possible by recent advances in genetic science.
One of GenePeeks’ goals is to ensure that their clients have a very positive experience with all aspects of the sperm bank process – not just the genetic screening steps.
To tackle this goal, GenePeeks is looking for input from members of the It’s Conceivable community who are willing to take a short survey, or participate in a short phone interview, about their sperm bank and sperm donor preferences. GenePeeks is particularly committed to designing a service that meets the needs of female same-sex couples who want to pro-actively protect the health of their future children.
GenePeeks will provide a $10 Amazon gift card to those who have used or have seriously considered using a sperm bank and completely fill out the survey. Please note we are primarily interested in feedback from female singles or couples who have used sperm banks in the past. Any comments you can add in the open-ended section of the survey about your experience would be especially appreciated. Only one gift card will be available per person.
Please consider taking a few minutes to help them out! The survey can be found here:
And if you’re open to participating in a quick interview, please contact Rebecca Silver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Full disclosure – We started It’s Conceivable as a personal project, and continue to run it without outside support of any kind. As you can imagine, there are costs associated with keeping the site up and running. Not only will you be providing insight to GenePeeks by taking the survey (and improving the sperm bank experience for women in the future), you’ll be helping us out too – some pennies toward the site for your thoughts, if you will. It’s a win/win/win situation. – Thanks! Kendra