Imagine ten trials, several thousand patients,” said Friend, the founder of Seattle-based Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that champions open science and data sharing. “Here you have genetic information, and you have what drugs they took, how they did. Put that up in the cloud, and you have a place where people can go and query it, [where] they can make discoveries.” In this scenario, Friend said, patients would be able to control who could access their information, and for which purposes. But their health data would be effectively open-sourced.
The crowd was receptive. Several people looking to share their data with scientists stood up to ask what options they had. There were a few open-source health data projects in the works, Friend replied, but nothing fully-formed. “We’re pretty close,” he reassured them.
He was closer than he thought. Sitting in the audience that day was Mike O’Reilly, a newly minted vice president for medical technologies at Apple.
Give Apple credit for having some class. In the middle of their big launch of the Apple Watch and new MacBook, they devoted equally as much time to a thing they won’t profit from and are even giving away so that other manufacturers can use it. It’s a medical tool called ResearchKit: specifically, it’s a tool to let medical professionals build applications that will use your iPhone. You know that thing you have with you constantly and which can now monitor how much exercise you take? That thing where you can fill out a medical questionnaire so quickly that you will actually do that instead of putting it off? That.
ResearchKit is going to be a boon for the type of medical research that needs trials and lots of data. Read the full piece for how it happened and what it’s going to do for us.