Google’s Baseline Study Aims to Spot Diseases in Early Stages

Baseline Study, an ambitious Google project, plans to determine the fullest picture yet of a healthy human being. Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist who joined the Google X research arm in 2013, is running the project along with his team of experts. The study will collect the anonymous genetic and molecular information of 175 different people, expanding to thousands more in the future. In the long run, Google X hopes to detect fatal illnesses in their early stages.

“With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” explained Dr. Conrad. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”


Dr. Conrad (pictured left) is leading the Life Sciences division of Google X, the team responsible for the smart contact lens we reported on earlier. The Life Sciences division is planning ways to use data to help prevent illnesses.

The Baseline Study project will use a wide variety of diagnostic tools to spot any number of diseases, and find patterns — or “biomakers” — while using Google resources.

The study may, for instance, reveal a biomarker that helps some people break down fatty foods efficiently, helping them live a long time without high cholesterol and heart disease,” explains The Wall Street Journal.

Baseline participants will use Google’s wearable devices in order to track and store data.

“Dr. Conrad expects medicine will be improved by the mountains of new information that can now be collected,” notes WSJ. “This fits with Google’s original mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, he said.”

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