Google Backs Harvard Scientist’s 100,000-Genome Quest

March 1, 2008

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) — A Harvard University scientist backed by Google Inc. and OrbiMed Advisors LLC plans to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people in the world’s biggest gene sequencing project.

Harvard’s George Church plans to spend $1 billion to tie DNA information to each person’s health history, creating a database for finding new medicines. The U.S., U.K., China and Sweden this year began working together to decipher the genetic makeup of 1,000 people at a cost of $50 million.

Google, owner of the most popular Internet search engine, is looking for ways to give people greater control over their medical data. Along with the unspecified donation to Church, the Mountain View, California-based company said last week that it would work with the Cleveland Clinic to better organize health records, and last year gave $3.9 million to 23andme Inc., a seller of genomic data to individuals.

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Google Health Begins Its Preseason at Cleveland Clinic

February 24, 2008

For 18 months, Google has been working to come up with a product offering and a strategy in the promising field of consumer health information. Until now, the search giant hasn’t had anything to show for its labors other than bumps along the way — delays and a management change.

But on Thursday, Google’s technology for personal health records, which is still in development, is getting a big endorsement from the Cleveland Clinic. The big medical center is beginning a pilot project to link the health information for some of its patients with Google personal health records.

Cleveland Clinic is at the cutting edge of health information technology, and its more than 100,000 patients each has a personal health record. But a sizable portion of those patients are retirees, notes Dr. C. Martin Harris, the clinic’s chief information officer. Many of them, he said, spend about five months elsewhere, typically in Florida or Arizona, and the clinic’s sophisticated electronic health records don’t follow them there.

“It forces the patient to become his or her own medical historian,” Dr. Harris said.

The Google personal health record, he said, is a solution to that problem, among others. A person can approve the transfer of information on, say, medical conditions, allergies, medications and laboratory results from the clinic’s computers to a Google personal health record — a series of secure Web pages.

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Google: A Doctor’s Best Friend?

November 9, 2006

A new study (that should come as no surprise to Google users) suggests that Google can help doctors diagnose difficult cases.

“Google is the most popular search engine on the web, with access to more than three billion medical articles – and searching for health information is one of the most common uses of the web.[…]

“Web-based search engines such as Google are becoming the latest tools in clinical medicine, and doctors in training need to become proficient in their use.”

However, “the internet is in no way a replacement for doctors – their clinical judgement and expertise will always be necessary to make sense of the information.”

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