174: Daniel Uribe (Genobank.io)

Daniel Uribe on Innovation City

Welcome to Season 4 of Innovation City (The Miami Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Today’s guest is Daniel Uribe, CEO and co-founder of Genobank.io, a digital wallet for genetic data. Daniel combined his cybersecurity and blockchain background with a personal experience to come up with the idea for Genobank. In this episode, Daniel sits down with the team to discuss how he broke with his family and got into tech, his inspiration for Genobank, the potential applications for a DNA blockchain and much more! 

They discuss:

  • Daniel’s super power is faith
    • In humanity, in God, in family
  • Daniel’s unique background
    • How was he introduced to technology, blockchain and genetics
    • He has been a cybersecurity for over 15 years
    • Began his career at SUN Microsystems
      • In this role he worked with large corporations and banks
      • Enrolled in an executive program course in Silicon Valley
      • This was his first experience with blockchain
      • Being an IT guy, he really appreciated the way it keeps data safe
    • How he initially became interested in technology 
      • Daniel has quite a few family members who are in the mechanical engineering side of science
      • He rebelled, recognizing that electronics would eventually rule the mechanics (this was 1990)
      • His father was an automotive mechanic but balked at the new fuel injection systems, which were powered by computers
      • Daniel was 12 or 13 at the time, and he decided he wanted to become an electronics engineer, even though his family thought he was making a mistake
      • Forward thinking
      • Decentralization
    • Daniel’s blockchain mentor, Marco Montes, CEO of Saldo.mx, invented a cross-border payment wallet
      • This solved the problem of processing remittances, so Mexican immigrants can pay bills
        • Regulation is the expensive part, not the technology
    • In 2017 his son suffered a severe injury, and when the bleeding wouldn’t stop, the hospital asked permission to do some DNA testing to determine the cause
      • The DNA showed he had a rare genetic mutation
      • At the time Daniel knew nothing about DNA
      • He began asking – how is the data generated? What is a sequencer? Where is the data stored, who has access? 
      • By learning about all this, he thought this was the perfect scenario for a digital wallet – to store DNA and genetic data for yourself and your family
  • What are some of the uses and reasonings for this product?
    • Five major cases in genomics
      • Precision medicine
        • Cancer, for example
      • Forensics
        • Reuniting minors at the border with biological family 
        • The problem here is that the genetic info often gets mixed in with criminal databases, and immigrants are not criminals
      • Nutrigenomics
        • Growing food
      • Pharmacogenomics 
        • Medicine
      • Ancestry
    • This wallet can serve any purpose, because it’s your genetic data and it’s the same for multiple contexts
  • The concept of having a digital twin is exciting
    • A replica or avatar that has all of your electronic medical records, genetic info, all the datasets that come from your body in a digital way
    • This info may help predict info
    • One possible application of this is vaccine development
      • Rather than using human subjects for clinical trials, the effects can be tested digitally and computationally predict how the vaccine is going to work on different ethnicities
  • How do we educate people around this? The average person probably doesn’t realize they have rights to their unique genetic info.
    • There’s a connection to what’s happening now with NFTs and crypto
    • Digital privacy and ownership is something younger people have already accepted, but older people seem to have trouble wrapping their minds around it
  • What exactly is Genobank.io? What do you do?
    • Tokenize genetic info from a biosample tube (saliva, swab, etc.)
    • Create a unique token (bio NFT) to represent the biosample
    • Control of the key that governs that biosample to the donor or guardian in case of minor
    • In most cases, the biosample is also the data
    • They have created secure data rooms for individuals and families
  • How can people reach Daniel and find out more about Genobank.io?

Lightning Round:

What does success look like to you?

  • Happy customers

What makes you lose track of time?

  • Video games

How are you making a difference in the world?

  • By decentralization

What challenge do you want to overcome?

  • Not spending enough time with my family