Large-scale, long-term health tracking discussed at Durham conference

June 5, 2017 by  

At a recent “precision medicine” conference Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, briefed attendees concerning an approaching long-term effort to create a data base containing the health data of a million plus people.

Held at Durham’s Duke University, the conference outlined the ambitious project, which unlike the many other large-scale “cohort” studies, will pointedly seek out a considerably diverse group to partaking in the study. The diverse nature of the group should allow the data to shed light on the link between environmental exposures and the changes it causes it the human body leading to disease.

Details of Collins’ education, included on his premium business cards, shows the University of North Carolina is where he received his training. Known in medical-research circles for coordinating the successful mapping of the human genome, Collins was appointed to his present position in 2009 by former President Obama. He incorrently assumed, when agreeing to participate in the Duke conference, that the Trump administration would have selected a replacement for him as NIH director by then.

Initial testing of the data-gathering systems for the study began the first of June and the program expects to be fully operational sometimes in the fall. It is anticipated that research will commence using the collected data as soon as next year, assuming the project stays on schedule and performs as planned.