Google Baseline Study aims to define what a healthy human looks like

Jul 25, 2014 by Bob Yirka weblog
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Google has announced that it has added a project it's calling Baseline Study, to Google X. The announcement came from project manager Andrew Conrad—he gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. The aim of the project is simple, study a lot of people as vigorously as possible to see if it's possible to define what it means to be a healthy human being. If that can be accomplished, then logic suggests that any person with deviations from that standard should have cause for concern, because they might have a tendency to develop a particular type of ailment. Put another way, it's a large scale attempt at improving preventive medicine.

Conrad (he was once part of a team that developed cheap HIV tests for donated blood) has been working on the project for more than a year, and has already built a large team of researchers—the team has also already enlisted 175 volunteer into the program—each of which will be giving up blood, urine, saliva and tears for molecular and DNA analysis. Eventually the volunteers will wear monitoring devices to track blood pressure, heart rate, etc. and at some point the glucose monitoring contact lens that Google is developing. Over many years more and more volunteers will be recruited, each adding to the data that is collected. Google will then use its impressive data crunching facilities to create a composite of what a healthy human looks like, or conversely, what one looks like that is likely to develop an ailment. The idea is to create a baseline that will allow for identifying biomarkers for as many ailments as possible, as early as possible.

The project is likely to cause privacy concerns, of course—who will have access to all that data, and what about the privacy of the volunteers? Google is well aware of likely concerns and has taken steps to ensure data collected for the project is never used for any other purpose. Initial data will be handled in accordance with laws protecting patient privacy, by independent research facilities where personal information will be removed before it is handed over to Conrad and his team. Another potential area of concern is the final result—what if Google succeeds with the project? Could people be required to undergo extensive physicals prior to signing up for health insurance with the results compared against the Baseline Study results? If so, could certain biomarkers cause them to be excluded? Could biomarkers be used against people in other ways, such as a means of determining rights to procreate, or to run for public office? Such scenarios are impossible to predict, but the initiation of this new project just might begin the debate long before the project has created the baseline it's seeking.

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TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2014
I assume that the def of healthy will change as we become able to correct genetic defects in the womb, and that this debate will take on many new dimensions.

Will we be obligated to correct defects? Will parents who choose not to correct such defects be subject to insurance penalties and punitive damages for their children's errant behavior and medical bills?
nilbud
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2014
Obviously stupid, which people are the wrong ones, the one's with 4 lumbar vertebrae or the one's with 6?
extinct
2 / 5 (5) Jul 25, 2014
"Google Baseline Study aims to define what a healthy human looks like"

Well, that should be quick & easy; to define what a healthy human looks like, just examine the humans who came up with the idea of the Google Baseline Study. It may sound odd at first, but after all, if they, of all people, are not guaranteed 100% healthy, then how could they ever invent a product or service that is viable at achieving its stated goal(s) ? The point is that health is certainly not defined by a for-profit corporation, which by definition is unhealthy.
d_robison
5 / 5 (2) Jul 25, 2014
As Otto said, the definition of healthy is a changing one (and rapidly so). How do you pin-point being completely healthy? Is it a combination of lifestyle, emotional, and physical health? If a person is completely physically and emotionally healthy, but makes relatively risky lifestyle choices (ex: climbing Mt. Everest, etc.), does that make them unhealthy?

@extinct

Why would they examine the people who came up with the idea of the Google Baseline Study? Just because you develop a study doesn't necessarily mean you are the perfect candidate for that study.

Why should they be guaranteed to be 100% healthy?
How is a for-profit corporation, by definition, unhealthy?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
if they, of all people, are not guaranteed 100% healthy, then how could they ever invent a product or service that is viable at achieving its stated goal(s) ? The point is that health is certainly not defined by a for-profit corporation, which by definition is unhealthy
@extinct
I am with d_robison on this one... your comment makes NO sense.

FOR PROFIT Corporations health are decided upon by the financial intake vs the output. If more $$$$ are coming in than going out, then all is good... the more that comes in, the better the company is. There is no standard other than the more in than out.

Secondly: Scientists regularly study cancer and other diseases... but they themselves are not afflicted. so does that alter the study? NO.

therefore your logic is flawed from the outset.
re-read the article, use google, take on-line classes, read Otto and d_robison... learn something
indio007
2 / 5 (4) Jul 25, 2014
Smacks of eugenics.
hrfJC
not rated yet Jul 25, 2014
A simlar study of spritely vs feeble octogenarians and nonogenarians has been reported as part of study of parameters defining immunosenescence. It involved about 6 critical blood components which were plotted in a radar map format showing clear pattern differentiation.
RichMurray
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
This open-minded exhaustive survey will quickly guide researchers to successfully prove the value of many new paradigms for health:

Two proven strategies prevent and cure most modern chronic "diseases of civilization":

1. organic vegan diet, high complex starches like rice and potatoes and beans, low fat and low protein, with very minimal use of toxic chemicals -- drmcdougall dot com

2. avoid all methanol, from canned fruits juices vegetables, fresh tomatoes, cigarette smoke, and aspartame, as in humans only the ADH1 enzyme makes methanol into rampant formaldehyde right inside the cells of 20 specific tissues -- the Prof. Woodrow C. Monte paradigm, backed up by a free online archive of 782 mostly full text medical research references at WhileScienceSleeps dot com
daveder
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
Why do we still think privacy is safe if people can not be identified personally?

If someone gives biological data is giving information of us all, no matter their personal names or our personal names.
The point of privacy is not giving sensitive data that can be used against us. When volunteers accept to give biological information they are giving OUR biological information. If it can be used against those people, it can be used against us too.
zaxxon451
5 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2014
@extinct
FOR PROFIT Corporations health are decided upon by the financial intake vs the output. If more $$$$ are coming in than going out, then all is good... the more that comes in, the better the company is. There is no standard other than the more in than out.


A "healthy" corporation is not necessarily healthy for society. I suspect he was speaking of the latter.
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Jul 27, 2014
A "healthy" corporation is not necessarily healthy for society. I suspect he was speaking of the latter.
@zaxxon451
likely so.

I just see things differently with regard to corporations.
a corp. is only as healthy for society as the owners/executive officers allow it to be, and thus is based upon their morals, actions and so forth.

This also changes in time... and as you can see, there are good examples of responsible corporations and bad examples

perhaps there should be a study that compares corp's to see what the balance (good to bad) is?
also-
How do you judge a corp that puts money into environmental causes but sinks money into causes that undermine science, like these corp's : http://www.drexel...nge.ashx

Not trying to start an off topic argument with that, just want to address the corp bias- on one hand getting attention for being "green", the other hand pushing FUD on a topic for $'s
AJW
not rated yet Jul 27, 2014
Other sites with more info on this topic:
http://online.wsj...06246214
http://www.busine...y-2014-7

I would like to see more information on their baseline concept.

"... The aim of the project is simple, study a lot of people as vigorously as possible to see if it's possible to define what it means to be a healthy human being. If that can be accomplished, then logic suggests that any person with deviations from that standard should have cause for concern, because they might have a tendency to develop a particular type of ailment. ..."

How is a deviation or identifying biomarker determined?
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
It is just the current paradigm of health economics; trace an ideal health curve defined in age groups and genders that makes possible ratings and comparisons. Governing bodies can then diffuse preventive information specific to their own population.

@RichMurray
There are no unhealthy foods, just unhealthy habits.

Here is my fifty something way to keep good shape and stay healthy in all seasons:
http://www.zoomph...78503/1/
http://www.zoomph...71687/1/
http://www.zoomph...91176/1/
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
Here is my fifty something way to keep good shape and stay healthy in all seasons:
@TechnoCreed
I used to be a runner myself

I wonder if a lot of consideration will be given to the Body Mass Index and making sure that this is researched for each individual... as well as other cardio etc?

Looks can be deceiving, and paperwork even more-so
for instance: I've always been a runner, so it was hard for me to gain any weight till I reached 20 and changed my habits. I ran less/powerlifted more.
My weight, according to the standard for height and bone structure, should never have exceeded 145lbs, but I weighed in at 225 when I went overseas.
Using various tests I was found to have between 7 and 9% body fat (depending on the test).

so fitness is subjective in many ways still.
I can't run, but I can still out-swim my grandkids. I am not fit, but in better shape than many people around here still

Wonder what that does to the baseline?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
Here is my fifty something way to keep good shape and stay healthy in all seasons:
http://www.zoomph...78503/1/
http://www.zoomph...71687/1/
http://www.zoomph...91176/1/
@TechnoCreed
Do you give your doc fits with the resting heart rate? LMFAO
Runners normally have extremely LOW resting heart rates... especially distance runners! They can measure as low as 48 beats per minute... this also throws off certain fitness tests such as the Old U.S. Air Farce Bicycle fitness test, which a runner will not be able to get his heart rate up enough to test, and will have to (normally) do the Mila-and-a-half run instead... something I had to do every year I was in the AF.

Normal resting heart rate for an adult can be between 60 - 80 bpm's
a constant runner will read from 48 - 65 bpm's... depending on circumstances.

Swimmers (distance and some speed) have been known to register low resting heart rates as well.
Zera
not rated yet Jul 27, 2014
To facilitate communication between human being and machine. If a human being has a health concern, it is not uncommon for you to "google" your symptoms and then read through, forums, wiki articles, etc.

This project is meerly an evolution of that, given that google has in the majority of cases access to your search history and is beginning to deploy heuristic algorithms for the collation and easy of user use, of said data, is this really such a large step?

Wearables are on the rise, simple data like body temp., heart rate, blood pressure... these are basic data given to a GP, and charged by a GP. To think a monitor could warn you of potential health risks re: sickness, and then to take that one step forward and to think technology could coach you to say: loose weight, create healthier sleep patterns.

With real data to reflect health, politics could be swung back to reflect health of human beings as opposed to health of economy?

Just saying.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
@Captain Stumpy
I just could not dismiss RichMurray's boring life of abstinence without presenting an easier more natural way to be healthy. His proposition is not a way to stay young but a way to grow old. The only way to stay young is to keep having fun. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it was an economic way to present an alternative and show that I practice what I preach.

Hey! Not surprised to know that you are in good physical condition, I would not expect less from a fireman even when he is retired.