“Google X sets out to define healthy human”

“In some ways, the Baseline Study doesn’t sound that radical. Many groups are amassing DNA and biological samples from large groups of people, both healthy and diseased, and tracking their outcomes. It is also routine in such longitudinal health studies to gather detailed medical data from volunteers and keep their information anonymous, as Google X says it will do.
Google declined to make Conrad available for an interview that might clarify how its project differs from others, but collaborator Robert Califf, a Duke cardiologist, provided more details to ScienceInsider. Califf said the study hopes to recruit 10,000 volunteers over 2 to 3 years from Palo Alto and the communities of Durham and Kannapolis in North Carolina. Participants will be tested for their genome sequence, blood proteins, and biochemical or so-called metabolomic profiles; in some cases, these data may eventually be be combined with their electronic health records. Some participants will be healthy; others will have disease. The goal is to tease out new biomarkers that can detect diseases such as cancer and heart attacks earlier, according to Califf. Google X has “obviously got the computing power to do things on a bigger scale than other people,” he says.
The study may also find new correlations with physiological measures and better define what’s normal: For example, perhaps monitoring pulse 24 hours a day might reveal some new predictor of a heart attack, Califf says. “Integrating real-time physiology with the biology just hasn’t been done before. It’s too hard.”

There is really interesting thought around how many diseases/disorders are really a spectrum, where the line is fuzzy about when it becomes a real problem. And it’s super fuzzy because everyone is different, so it might be a problem for person A to have a certain empirical blood pressure measurement — but actually completely ideal for person B. And there are other things that we totally associate with a pathology, like hallucinations, that actually most people experience at some point and that can be totally non-problematic parts of peoples’ lives.

Like, defining health — defining normal — is a huge part of what personalized medicine is going to mean.

(Credit to TZ)

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