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From Caribbean islands to global impact: CariGenetics’ mission is closing the genomic data gap

CariGenetics is pioneering a transformative approach to healthcare in the Caribbean by focusing on understanding and including Caribbean genomes in global datasets

Image courtesy of CariGenetics
Image courtesy of CariGenetics

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When it comes to our health, we all want to ensure we are doing everything we can to have access to the most accurate and personalized healthcare possible. Thanks to technological advancements, genetic testing has become more accessible, cost-effective, and efficient than ever, making way for several medical breakthroughs. 

This technology can help identify genetic predispositions to diseases, aiding in early detection and guiding more precise and effective treatments. From cancer management to reproductive health and beyond, genetic testing presents opportunities to revolutionize healthcare by providing crucial genetic information for better diagnosis, targeted therapies, and advancing medical research. Because it gives doctors insights into an individual’s genetic makeup, medications and treatments can be tailored to the patient instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.  

CariGenetics is pioneering a transformative approach to healthcare in the Caribbean by focusing on understanding and including Caribbean genomes in global datasets. The primary objective of CariGenetics is to address the imbalance in medicine development, which largely relies on European DNA data, despite Europeans or those of European descent only constituting approximately 15% of the world’s population. 

This discrepancy results in medications that may not be as effective for the remaining 85% of the global population. The Caribbean’s genetic diversity encompasses connections to various regions such as Africa, Europe, Central America, South America, China, India, and Indonesia, among others.  By concentrating on the Caribbean, CariGenetics seeks to leverage this unique genetic melting pot to contribute to global health.

“We are focusing on the Caribbean because there are so many connections that extend globally. Despite its seemingly small size, this region is a rich source of invaluable genetic treasures.” — Dr. Carika Weldon, Founder and CEO of CariGenetics

In addition, the island nations in the Caribbean present an interesting scenario for genetic research due to isolated geographic populations. The limited intermixing among these populations makes it easier to identify genetic mutations that might cause diseases. This unique characteristic of island genetics makes the Caribbean an attractive location for studying genetic underlying causes of diseases compared to larger and more genetically diverse countries.

By focusing on building a comprehensive genetic database specific to the Caribbean, CariGenetics aims to contribute to a future where healthcare solutions are designed to be effective for everyone, regardless of their genetic diversity or geographic origin.

It’s not just the patients that would benefit from this data; pharmaceutical companies are increasingly drawn to diverse genomic data due to its transformative potential across various facets of drug development and market strategy. Embracing the trend toward precision medicine, these companies recognize the significance of tailoring medications based on individual genetic markers. Understanding the diverse genetic makeup of populations allows for the creation of drugs that consider genetic variations, resulting in more targeted and effective therapies. 

Leveraging genetic data enables pharmaceutical firms to efficiently reach their target customer base by identifying specific populations that would benefit most from their drugs. This targeted approach facilitates more cost-effective marketing strategies, reducing expenses associated with broader, less precise campaigns. 

Understanding diverse genetic backgrounds also provides opportunities to develop drugs that cater to a wider range of populations, expanding the potential customer base and market reach. Ultimately, pharmaceutical companies stand to benefit significantly from utilizing genomic data, as it enhances drug development efficiency, improves treatment efficacy, and ensures a competitive edge in an evolving healthcare landscape.

Being a pioneer in this area is not without its challenges. Recent data breaches with other genetic testing agencies have created concerns regarding privacy and misuse of personal information. Building trust and assuring individuals that their data will be safeguarded is paramount. To navigate this challenge, CariGenetics is developing strategies to empower individuals to own and control their data, ensuring transparency and ethical handling. Furthermore, it will store all data in its own private cloud, hosted within the Caribbean.

Another significant strategy involves establishing local capacity and partnerships within the Caribbean. This approach aims to involve local researchers and professionals who share the same cultural background and can foster trust within their communities. Building local research capabilities also ensures the retention of data and resources within the region, preventing the financial strain associated with sending genetic samples abroad.

Relating to individuals on a personal level and demonstrating a collective goal of improving healthcare outcomes, CariGenetics aims to create a collaborative environment where the interests of both researchers and the community align. To learn more, visit

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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