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ResearchStack opens big-data medical studies to Android users

Nov. 13, 2015

Apple earlier this year introduced its ResearchKit, an open-source framework that gives medical researchers tools to accelerate medical studies—it lets opt-in iPhone users contribute data to medical researchers. Apple isn’t going it alone with ResearchKit—IBM announced that it will provide a delivery platform through its Health Cloud to de-identify, store, aggregate, and model data.

There’s a problem, however. Deborah Estrin, a professor of computer science at Cornell Tech, says, “You can’t just do research studies on people who can afford iPhones,” as reported by Steve Lohr in The New York Times. Consequently, she has been working to offer similar capabilities on Android, resulting on an initiative called ResearchStack, announced yesterday.

ResearchStack should work smoothly with studies underway that already use ResearchKit. “Researchers can create a study that is independent of what smartphone is used, and they won’t have to start from scratch,” said Estrin, who is also a professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. One project underway is an app for a melanoma study developed by the Oregon Health and Science University.

As reported by Lohr, Estrin praised “the growing data-sharing movement” that prompts millions of people to “contribute to the big-data-derived discovery and understanding” needed for medical research.

ResearchStack is currently in alpha, and a beta version is expected to be available in January 2016. ResearchStack is developed by Cornell Tech‘s Small Data Lab and Open mHealth in collaboration with touchlab. Initial funding for the project is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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