The latest news from Verily
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The field of medicine is ever-evolving, and the hope is that recent advances in technology will continue to spur the next generation of medical discoveries. At Verily, we have been focused on creating new tools to collect and organize information in ways previously not possible so that we can make the information useful. These initiatives, we believe, may chart a course towards the ultimate goal of improving human health. Our aim with Project Baseline is to contribute meaningfully to these efforts and to scientific research more broadly.
The Project Baseline study will collect a comprehensive set of health information both within and outside the four walls of a clinic. Within the clinic, a broad group of participants - including those who are exceptionally healthy, at-risk of disease, and with overt disease - will be providing deep data on a diverse set of measurements with repeat sampling over the course of four years. To bridge these encounters, we have also developed tools such as the investigational
and the Baseline mobile app to allow participants to provide more continuous insights throughout their everyday lives.
That means the Project Baseline study dataset will include clinical, molecular, imaging, self-reported, behavioral, environmental, sensor and other health-related measurements. To organize this information, we are creating an infrastructure that can process multi-dimensional health data – much of which have never been combined for an individual. Our vision is that this data platform can serve as a single query source and may be used for more seamless data integration and collaboration.
We recognize that we cannot achieve this vision in a silo. Teams across Verily have united around the Project Baseline study, and we work closely with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine, as well as other partners from academia, medicine, science, patient-advocacy, engineering and design. In the future, the intent is to make de-identified data from the Project Baseline study available to qualified researchers to spur new ideas across the broad ecosystem. Importantly, the participants are at the center of this study. They will serve as active collaborators alongside the rest of the Project Baseline study team and have the option to receive certain health data and test results to share with a doctor.
The Project Baseline study is therefore a united effort to map human health. To achieve this goal, we are creating a new set of tools for medical discovery, with the aspiration that these tools and others from the broader community will pave the way for rich real-world insights, and potentially one day add to the way care is delivered. Today, we begin.
For more information, visit
Posted by Jessica Mega, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer at Verily
Introducing Verily Study Watch
Friday, April 14, 2017
Today, we are proud to debut our newest investigational device, the Verily Study Watch. The ability to passively capture health data is critical to the success of continuous care platforms and clinical research. Study Watch represents another step in our targeted efforts to create new tools for unobtrusive biosensing. While numerous wearables exist in the market, we have a specific need outside of these offerings: namely, the scalable collection of rich and complex datasets across clinical and observational studies.
Note: Study Watch is an investigational device and is not available for sale.
The architecture of Study Watch was tailored specifically for high quality signals and seamless usage, with consideration of the needs of observational studies, such as how continuous wear impacts a user’s experience. These design and functionality decisions were reinforced by feedback from users, researchers, and clinicians.
Verily Study Watch is designed with these key features:
Multiple physiological and environmental sensors are designed to measure relevant signals for studies spanning cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas. Examples include electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements.
A long battery life of up to one week in order to drive better user compliance during longitudinal studies.
Large internal storage and data compression allow the device to store weeks’ worth of raw data, thus relaxing the need to frequently sync the device.
A powerful processor supports real time algorithms on the device.
The firmware is designed to be robust for future extensions, such as over-the-air updates, new algorithms, and user interface upgrades.
The display is always on so that time is always shown. The display is low power and high resolution for an appealing look and a robust user interface. Note: currently, only time and certain instructions are displayed. No other information is provided back to the user.
Because the investigational device stores health data, all data are encrypted on the device for security. The encrypted data are uploaded and processed in the cloud using Verily’s backend algorithms and machine learning tools. This infrastructure is highly scalable and can serve population studies consisting of large volumes of data.
Study Watch will be used in several observational studies conducted by Verily’s partners, including the
Personalized Parkinson’s Project
, a multi-year study to identify patterns in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and provide a foundation for more personalized treatments. Also, Study Watch will be used in the forthcoming
, a longitudinal study exploring transitions between health and disease. In the future, we plan to incorporate Study Watch in a broad array of health applications.
Posted by David He, Technical Lead; Tushar Parlikar, Product Manager; and Harry Xiao, Technical Program Manager
Gathering MSSNG Insights into Autism
Monday, March 6, 2017
Verily-supported research sheds new light on autism genetics that could guide better care
Today, Nature Neuroscience published
from the newest study conducted by the world’s largest autism genome sequencing program: the Autism Speaks
project. Verily and Google Cloud Platform are supporting MSSNG with secure storage, scalable processing, easy exploration, and sharing of the invaluable data.
In today’s publication, the research team led by
The Centre for Applied Genomics
(TCAG) at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, reports the sequencing of 5,205 samples from families with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) resulting in identification of 18 new candidate autism-risk genes, bringing the total number of autism-linked genes discovered in MSSNG to 61. Importantly, these 61 autism-linked genes also include several that increase risk for additional medical conditions such as heart defects and diabetes. This illustrates how whole genome sequencing of individuals with autism can help guide their personalized medical care.
Ryan Yuen with Steve Scherer, research director for the MSSNG project, both of TCAG at SickKids
was borne out of the MSSNG project’s need to store and process a new scale of data that modern cloud technology is uniquely equipped to handle. At Verily we seek to make the world’s health data useful, so we are excited to see the data from this partnership contribute to the field of autism research. As we develop a deeper understanding of various health conditions, including their genetic blueprint, we hope to improve lives through thoughtful personalized care, tools, and platforms.
In the spirit of open science, the MSSNG data, along with analytic tools, is
to all qualified researchers free of charge. Nearly 100 scientists from academia and industry have received access to the data already and are applying their ideas to unlock the value it contains.
There are thousands more genomes in the queue for upload to the online MSSNG database. We’re excited to see the research community use this data for further discovery as we move forward!
Posted by David Glazer, Engineering Director
Translating daily life into tools for diabetes
Friday, February 3, 2017
At Verily, we know that the tools we create to help people manage their health must seamlessly fit into their daily lives. After all, people are not the net sum of the disease or diseases they are managing, but are students or workers and mothers or fathers with many other priorities that come first. There are few places where user-centered design can have a greater impact than for those living with diabetes. In the U.S., there are more than 29 million people living with diabetes and 1.4 million new diagnoses annually. Living with diabetes is a constant balancing act, requiring many people with the disease to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. Throughout my career as a researcher, I have seen how critical it is to not only create tools that generate more and better data on diabetes, but that also translate data into actionable information that is easily used by people managing their condition.
We have several ongoing projects that approach the challenges of diabetes management from different angles and the user experience of people living with diabetes drives many of our efforts in this space. Recently, I sat down with Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Mission Officer for JDRF, who was in the Bay Area as part of the JDRF 2017 Mission Summit.
Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Mission Officer for JDRF
, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, serves as an advisor to Verily, offering insight into the range of experiences and perspectives of people living with diabetes. We discussed one of our core capabilities at Verily, the miniaturization of electronics, and its potential impact on the daily lives of people living with diabetes. A version of this Q&A is also available on JDRF's
Aaron, if you could summarize in one word how you want people managing their diabetes to feel, what would that be?
“Free”. Right now, there is no cure for T1D, so people who live with this disease are forced to manage it by the hour, night and day, every day. It can be unrelenting.
As JDRF Chief Mission Officer, you are very connected to the experiences of people with type 1 diabetes. What are some of the daily challenges faced by people with this condition?
Families need help with this often unpredictable disease, which deprives people of sleep and flexibility in their daily lives. There are new treatment options that allow people with T1D to participate in sports, travel, sleepovers and other activities, but it still requires careful planning and consistent management. We can’t wait for the day when we are free from the hourly obligation to manage our blood glucose and free from worry about medical emergencies and serious complications that can shorten our lifespans. It’s our hope that the next generations of diabetes devices can help alleviate some of those worries while offering better health outcomes as JDRF works toward our ultimate goal—a cure for this disease.
From an engineering standpoint, what improvements could have the most impact?
I’m connected to type 1 diabetes through my position at JDRF, but I also have T1D, and my brother has lived with it for more than 40 years, so I know from personal experience that the smaller and less intrusive devices are, the more easily we can go about our everyday lives. That’s why JDRF is working with many different organizations to support research that can make miniaturization possible—from devices and their components to ultra-concentrated insulins.
What does the future of wearables look like in T1D?
While devices have made significant progress towards achieving superior health outcomes and a better quality of life, the reality is that none of us really want to have to wear something for the rest of our lives. Making devices smaller is one of several next steps in lifting the burden that comes with having diabetes.
Posted by Howard Zisser, M.D., Diabetes Clinical Lead
Bending Liftware to help more people in need
Thursday, December 1, 2016
When I first started Liftware in 2010, my goal was to help people suffering from movement-related disorders live more independently and fully. Often, everyday tasks that most people take for granted can be a struggle for individuals with mobility concerns. For example, people living with hand tremor (either from conditions like Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor) often experience difficulty holding their utensils to eat. Few things are more basic to a sense of independence than being able to feed yourself. With this in mind, we developed
(originally called “Liftware”), a computerized stabilizing handle and a selection of utensil attachments designed to counteract the effects of hand tremors so that users can eat with confidence.
But motion and movement disorders aren't limited to those living with hand tremors. People who’ve experienced spinal cord injury or post-stroke deficits, or who have conditions such as Huntington’s disease, or cerebral palsy (CP) may have significantly limited hand and arm mobility. There are more than 200,000 cases of CP per year in the United States alone. The problems these individuals face include reduced control over reflexes and muscles, which may impact their ability to eat independently since their range of motion may be too limited to even bring their hands to their mouths. The Liftware team wanted to help these people, too.
We started by working with physicians and watching how individuals with various movement conditions move and eat—and realized that the device needed to be able to stay level, regardless of how someone maneuvered their hands and arms. We made adjustments to our software algorithms. The team rapidly prototyped handles that were easy to hold but could still bend and twist in different directions. The design was then made sleeker to blend in better with other household items.
Today, I'm happy to
that we are ready to share
with the public. With sensors inside the handle, Liftware Level knows what position your hand is in at all times and adjusts its position to accommodate limited hand and arm mobility. We've seen that
, our original product, has helped those suffering from hand tremor relax and enjoy the company of those around them instead of worrying about the task at hand.
As we introduce Level to the broader community of those living with limited hand and arm mobility, we hope it will turn the everyday task of eating into a more pleasurable experience. That's why we're partnering with the Huntington Disease Society of America and Teva to give away Liftware Level Starter Kits, which includes the electronic handle and a soup spoon attachment, to the first people who apply.
Find out more about Liftware and our products at
Posted by Anupam Pathak, Creator of Liftware
Introducing the Debug Project
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Mosquitoes kill more people than every other animal combined. The diseases they spread sicken hundreds of millions of people each year. Towards the end of 2014, some of us at Google started exploring what we could do to help solve the mosquito problem. Serendipitously, around that same time, Verily was founded (initially as Google Life Sciences) with the objective of solving hard problems in science and biology with the ultimate goal of preventing disease on a global scale. It was a perfect match.
We talked with experts from around the world working on many different approaches. One stood out to us: the
the sterile insect technique
(SIT). The idea is to release sterile insects to mate with wild ones. No offspring result from these matings. So if enough sterile insects are released, they can reduce, or even locally eliminate, the wild population.
The sterile insect technique was first developed in the 1950s to combat a livestock pest called the
New World screwworm
. Here in California, SIT is used to control
Mediterranean fruit fly
. Unlike chemical pesticides, sterile insects are exquisitely precise. Insects only mate with others of their own species.
There have been many attempts over the years to use SIT to control mosquitoes. One problem is that the traditional method of using radiation to sterilize insects doesn’t work well on mosquitoes. The radiation dose necessary to sterilize mosquitoes makes them bad at mating. Recently, new techniques have been developed including one using a naturally-occurring bacteria called
. This bacteria sterilizes mosquitoes, while preserving their ability to compete for mates in the wild.
Another problem is cost. For SIT to work, a lot of mosquitoes must be raised and released. A lot of male mosquitoes, specifically. Male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, but only females bite and feed on blood. By releasing only males, which can’t bite, there aren’t more mosquitoes that can spread disease. Unfortunately, raising mosquitoes and separating the males from females is currently very labor intensive, making it too expensive to deploy at a large scale.
We decided to focus on the problem of reducing that cost with automation. We’re using Verily’s combination of data analytics, sensors, lab automation technology, and scientific expertise to solve specific issues around mass-production and sex-sorting of mosquitoes, and to enable efficient and targeted releases.
We also decided to focus on one particular mosquito: Aedes aegypti. While there are thousands of different species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti is the primary vector of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, and there aren’t good ways to control this mosquito.
The Debug Project is still early. We've built a team of mosquito biologists, software engineers and automation experts who are all passionate about solving the problem of mosquito borne diseases. We have promising prototypes of our automated rearing, sex separation, and release systems along with new designs for sensors and traps to measure mosquito populations.
We’re announcing Debug today because we’ll soon be ready to try these outside of our lab. We want to engage with local communities and government regulators to find the right places for field trials and ensure those trials are safe and effective.
To keep up on our team’s efforts, you can follow this blog or learn more at
Posted by Linus Upson, VP of Engineering
Congrats to One Brave Idea™ winner, Dr. Calum MacRae
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
On November 8th of last year, Verily and the American Heart Association (AHA) made a big
. Together, we would invest in one visionary approach focused on novel strategies to prevent and reverse coronary heart disease (CHD). I remember the date well because I was there and included in my
that I was joining Verily as Head of Cardiovascular Innovations.
Cardiovascular diseases are the largest cause of death globally, accounting for about one of every three deaths, with CHD the top underlying cause. In order to move the needle on this global problem, Verily, AHA, and now AstraZeneca have committed to
collectively invest $75 million
to this initiative, a transformative award directed towards an ambitious approach to CHD and its consequences.
The genesis of this award came from asking ourselves, “what does it mean to truly believe in and commit to a visionary idea?” We wanted to take a stand and invest in a leader, and to provide sustained support over several years to give the awarded team the resources and time to fully realize a bold vision. "One Brave Idea" officially launched and began accepting applications in January 2016. Our hope is that this initiative will catalyze other similar grants that move rapidly and provide durable funding.
Today, I am excited to congratulate the winner of One Brave Idea™: Dr. Calum MacRae, Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and his broad multidisciplinary team. From reading the hundreds of applications to identifying the winner, it has been thrilling to participate in this selection process. We look forward to helping Dr. MacRae and his team, in concert with the AHA and AstraZeneca, accomplish this important mission.
Watch our YouTube Live Stream from today, featuring a roundtable discussion with Dr. McRae and representatives from the Joint Leadership Group of Verily, AHA, and AstraZeneca. To read more about Dr. MacRae and the winning idea, see our
. We're excited to see where this research can lead!
Posted by Mike McConnell, MD, MSEE, Head of Cardiovascular Health Innovations at Verily
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