Scripps Health Teams Up With Microsoft and Others for Genetic Testing Study
It was almost exactly a year ago that Microsoft launched its HealthVault service, a secure online database for users to store and manage their medical records. And in recent months, we’ve reported on the software giant’s increasing efforts in health care, including its new partnerships with prescription drug provider CVS Caremark and Boston, MA-based health startup American Well. Now, Microsoft is teaming up with San Diego-based Scripps Health to study the long-term effects of personal genome testing on health and lifestyle.
The study, which is co-sponsored by the Bay Area firms Affymetrix and Navigenics, seeks to do genetic scans on as many as 10,000 people affiliated with the non-profit Scripps Health system. The scans and analysis will tell participants about their genetic risk for health conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and certain types of cancer. But the point of the study is to follow what happens after that: will participants change their lifestyle to combat their newfound health risks, and if so, how? The plan is to track their behaviors over 20 years using detailed questionnaires and periodic health surveys. To protect the privacy of users, the identifying information on their saliva samples and questionnaires will be “encrypted and kept in a secure database,” according to Scripps.
What’s in it for Microsoft? Participants will be able to store their clinical and lifestyle information in a Microsoft HealthVault account, and access it or share it with health care providers. “This collaboration is a significant step forward in empowering people to proactively address their specific individual health needs, as well as give clinical researchers access to a broader pool of genetic data to develop new disease treatments,” said Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s health solutions group, in a statement.