Project Baseline: Google’s quest to collect medical data, shape human health

Project Baseline: Google’s quest to collect medical data, shape human health
If you have any interest in technology, particularly mobile technology and social networking, you have undoubtedly noticed a significant uptick in features and accessories that relate to personal health.

Whether it is a simple heart rate monitor, or pedometer on a smartphone or some type of wearable, or a big initiative to bring the big view of personal heath down to a personal level, the fact is, basic health (be it care or maintenance), is going to be big business.

This business is not just about money, even though there is a heap of cash to be made from such endeavors (the healthcare sector will reach a value of about $10 trillion in the next few years), it is about the reality of where mankind is headed, especially in developed markets, populations trending older and living longer, and gaining weight.

Cue Google’s latest moonshot, Project Baseline, also known as the Baseline Study.  It will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information. The initial test bed will be a small sample, just 175 people. The study will eventually grow to a sample spanning thousands of people. The goal is simple: paint a picture of what a healthy human being should be.

Dr. Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist, joined Google X and will head up the project. He has assembled a team of about 100 people covering fields of physiology, biochemistry, optics, and imaging to look mass amounts of data that will hopefully assist the medical community detect and treat major health problems, from diabetes to heart disease.

The participants will also wear a newly developed contact lens, embedded with microelectronics which will be able to monitor glucose levels on an almost continuous basis.

As the sample of people grows, trends can be identified with the help of Google’s gargantuan computing capacity to identify “biomarkers” which help to prevent major health problems in individuals from developing. For example, some markers may indicate groups of people that can or cannot break down certain types of food efficiently. Other markers may raise a red flag for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

By the time Google receives this data, all of it will be anonymous, and the data will not be shared with insurance companies. Dr. Conrad urges that any advances made as the study progresses will be made in increments. Project Baseline will also be monitored by institutional review boards.  Duke University and Stanford University will control how the information is used.

Knowing Google, and the trend we are witnessing in technology, whatever comes from Project Baseline, eventually this will become something that we, as general consumers, will interact with as normally as we use our smartphones and smartwatches today. In some way, shape, or form, that data will play a role in identifying macro-level trends that will steer the course of medicine and healthcare.



source: The Wall Street Journal

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11 Comments

1. Jinto

Posts: 436; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Hah, google *anonymous*

2. GreekGeek

Posts: 1276; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

LOL for a while I thought I read : ''Google’s quest to collect your data''

3. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Would be great if it gets to the point where it can detect very faint symptoms of a potentially deadly disease. Could be possible that one day, you're smartphone will tell you: -you had enough sugar for the day -you are showing symptoms of some disease -you need to take 500 more steps ..could be good. Wish them luck.

4. sriuslywtf

Posts: 297; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

I love the way you think.. Not those pessimistic idiotic people who comments about sh*ts.. Google seems to see the future better than we do. Lets hope they succeed! To all haters out there who thinks they are better than a company who wants to do things rather than "watch and see what will happen then comment later to impose their opinion based on facts seen on internet". Screw you! Google and others like apple and MS are doing business while you whimpers your BS.

5. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Especially good for old people, they have lot of minor things about health they have to take care of. (And *your, not you're)

6. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

So everyone's favorite giant surveillance corporation is going to gather health data on everyone. And then rank everyone vs. some health standard that they develop. Like NSA, CIA, FBI, etc, they say because it is because of some good purpose. But unlike government where actions can sometimes be harder to interpret, we know for profit companies do absolutely nothing for a good purpose.

7. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Its for when the EOL pimple in Yellowstone's park pops, those worthy get on the new "Arc". /s

8. magnanimus

Posts: 565; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Why did I know you were gonna be here XD. After Google's track record of solely your data to improve your internet experience and being a great influence in the development of the internet of things (I bet you use an android, google maps, google search, and YouTube) you still fail to see that maybe they aren't bad guys after all. Some people

9. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Please keep going.

10. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

"Some people..." Let me finish that for you: "Some people use free products because they are okay being farmed like animals, okay with being the product that will be sold at the market. Some people don't care enough about themselves or others to lift a fingernail in the name of inalienable human rights, including the rights to one's person, one's personal effects, and to self-determination. All some people want to do in life is to publicly confess their love of big brother." You're welcome.

11. linaresx

Posts: 101; Member since: Jun 13, 2013

But I love my Big Brother, He protects me from the bullies and gets me ice cream when I scrape my knees. And all I have to do is tell Him everything about me and report on my parents' activities.

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