A new project is being built at Google X — the company’s research arm — and it has to do with how a healthy human being should look like. As first reported by the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed by Google in a press release sent to TNW, ‘Baseline Study’ will put together anonymous genetic and molecular information from an initial 175 people, with thousands more to come, to create a full picture of a healthy human being.
The 175 healthy people will go through an exam that includes the collection of body fluids like blood and saliva, after which Google X researchers will review what they have learnt and engage researchers at Duke University and Stanford University for a much larger study.
The eventual aim is for Baseline to act as a reference for the chemistry of a well-run, healthy body, and in turn, identify anomalies far earlier. The hope is that the medicine industry moves more towards prevention rather than treatment in response to illnesses.
“If we could somehow detect those changes earlier, as soon as a body starts to move away from a “healthy” chemistry, this could change how diseases are detected, treated, or even prevented,” Google said in a statement.
This comes after Google’s co-founder Larry Page set up a new company called Calico to tackle age-related health problems, together with Apple chairman Art Levinson, in September last year.
The ‘Baseline Study’ research will not lead directly to a new Google product, however, as the company says it is meant as a contribution to science. Yet it hedges the eventual purpose of the project by also saying that a study like this could “unlock lots of ideas for future projects, not just at Google but across the health and technology industries.”
Google plans to make the study and its underlying results available for “qualified researchers in health” to use for their own medical studies.
Amid concerns about privacy issues, Google told the Wall Street Journal that the data collected for Baseline will be anonymous and only limited to the use of medical and health purposes, while data won’t be shared with insurance companies. The project will also be overseen by institutional review boards that will control how the information is used.