Google has begun a new project aiming to define what constitutes a healthy human being. The project, called Baseline Study, will collect “anonymous genetic and molecular information,” initially from 175 people but eventually thousands of others. The hope is that the Baseline Study will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness. Google will use its computing power to analyze the info and find patterns, called biomarkers. The hope is that these biomarkers can be used to detect any disease a lot earlier.
This is a hugely ambitious project which could lead to better preventative measures enabling us all to live longer.
I don’t see much use of the information for genealogists, however. Collecting anonymous DNA information doesn’t benefit genealogists who wish to find relatives. Also, the markers being examined and catalogued probably are not the Y-chromosome or mitochondrial markers of interest to genealogists. However, any time a major corporation starts running DNA tests on what will probably someday be thousands of humans, the cost of the tests is bound to come down in price. If so, genealogists will definitely benefit from cheaper DNA testing.
You can read more about the Baseline Study in an article by Alistair Barr in the Wall Street Journal at http://goo.gl/1JjyfX.