The Project Baseline study is an ambitious endeavor with a potentially transformative payoff. Launched in April after years of designing and planning by Verily, an Alphabet company, in partnership with Stanford Medicine and the Duke University School of Medicine, it aims to understand the molecular basis of health by repeatedly collecting vast amounts of biomedical data from as many as 10,000 participants over the course of at least four years. Stanford Medicine recently enrolled its 100th participant in the study, as I wrote in a news article.
Observing how a person’s health data changes over time, regardless of whether they remain healthy or fall ill, could provide the first comprehensive atlas of what it means to be “well” at all stages of life, or help researchers learn the subtle signals given off by the body at the earliest stages of cancer, heart disease or other disorders. To do so, they need to collect health data from people who represent a wide variety of ethnicities, ages and health statuses.
“It’s important that we enroll a broad spectrum of participants, from those who are healthy to those who have a higher-than-normal risk for cancer or cardiovascular disease,” said professor and chair of radiology Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, the study’s principal investigator at Stanford. “We also need people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The reason that this is so important is that we want to capture the transition from health to illness at a molecular level. Enrolling people at higher risk can increase the probability that we will observe study participants transitioning to an ill state during the course of the study. And this transition may look different in different ethnic groups or genders.”
Leslie Purchase, shown above, was an earlier participant. “I’m so excited to be part of this effort to understand more about what makes the human body work,” said Purchase, 41, a former physician and mother of three who volunteers with the nonprofit Rotaplast International. “It’s an opportunity to help inform health and wellness on a scale that’s never before been attempted, and I think it’s a pretty easy way to do something good for the world.”
People interested in participating in the study can visit http://www.projectbaseline.com/ or call 855-5-BASELINE (855) 522-7354
Previously: NPR highlights Google’s Baseline study and what it might teach us about human health, Project Baseline study to launch today, and Preparing for first Stanford Project Baseline participant
Photo by Steve Fisch