Verily launches the Baseline study to collect health data from around 10 000 participants

Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences announced Wednesday the initiation of the Project Baseline longitudinal study, which will collect broad phenotypic health data from around 10 000 participants, who will be followed for at least four years. Verily will collaborate with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine on the study, with Jessica Mega, Verily's chief medical officer, noting that "we hope to create a dataset, tools and technologies that benefit the research ecosystem and humankind more broadly."

Verily explained that the study's initial goals include characterising the variation in the observed physical and biochemical traits of the participants while also identifying biomarkers of disease-related transitions, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Adrian F. Hernandez, member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, said "we are aiming to engineer a true twenty-first century approach to health - in a preventive and personalised way", adding "we’re hoping to develop new platforms that will discover changes in health as they happen in meaningful and actionable ways."

The longitudinal study will begin enrolling participants within the next few months, who will be expected to use a wrist-worn investigational device on a daily basis while other sensors will also be used for data collection. Additionally, participants will undergo repeat clinical visits and contribute to regular interactive surveys and polls by using a smartphone, computer or call centre.

Verily said that the data collected will include clinical, imaging, self-reported, physical, environmental, behavioural, sensor, molecular, genetic and other health-related measurements. The company added that blood and saliva specimens, among others, will be collected from the participants. Verily further noted that the Project Baseline data repository, which will be built on Google computing infrastructure and hosted on Google Cloud Platform, will be available to researchers for analysis in the future.

According to Verily, the study is the first initiative of Project Baseline, which is "designed to develop a well-defined reference, or 'baseline,' of health as well as a rich data platform that may be used to better understand the transition from health to disease and identify additional risk factors for disease." The company added that Project Baseline also aims to "test and develop new tools and technologies to access, organise and activate health information."

Earlier this week, Verily introduced the Verily Study Watch investigational device, designed to passively capture a person's health data for use in medical research studies, including the Baseline longitudinal study. 

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