Google launches 10,000-person study to predict how and when people get sick

12:37 p.m Wednesday, April 19, 2017 Atlanta health, diet and fitness news
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
A scientist examining cells in a 96-well plate, which allows scientists to look at lots of cells at the same time and directly compare cells that have or have not been treated with a drug.

Verily Life Science — a Google life sciences company owned by Alphabet — is finally kicking off the massive study it first announced three years ago.

» RELATED: The hottest features from the new Google Earth mobile, desktop launch this week

In partnership with both Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine, the landmark study, part of its Project Baseline, aims to collect health data from 10,000 participants over the course of at least four years, the company announced in a news release Wednesday.

Baseline’s official website describes the project as “a quest to collect comprehensive health data and use it as a map and compass, pointing the way to disease prevention.”

Using physical and biochemical traits of the study population, researchers hope to better understand how people get sick, when they get sick and identify any additional risk factors and biomarkers leading up to disease, including diseases related to both cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“The Project Baseline study is the first step on our journey to comprehensively map human health,” Verily Chief Medical Officer Jessica Mega said.

With the help of experts at Duke, Stanford and other collaborators, the project also seeks to develop new technologies to better access and understand health data, Mega said. 

Here’s how it works:

» RELATED: Google honors Ghanaian business woman with doodle

Past studies that have focused on understanding patterns, causes and effects in a study population — at least in cardiovascular disease research — have seen huge strides, according to American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.

While Verily has also been busy with other projects, such as developing smart contact lenses and reducing the use of glucose monitors for people with diabetes, Project Baseline is the company’s first serious public test.

“I hope that 20 years from now, 30, 50 years from now … people will say ‘wow this really led to a transformation of human health,’” Sam Gambhir, one of the study’s lead investigators, said.

More about Project Baseline here.