Wearable Fitbit devices will be used in the national All of Us research program, thanks to a funding award from the National Institutes of Health to The Scripps Research Institute, to gather ongoing physical data on study participants.

The wearable devices will be used to gather patient information that will augment other data gathered for the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Research Program.

Researchers say they expect data gathered from the program will be used to learn more about how individual differences in lifestyle, environment and biological makeup can influence health and disease.

Also See: Precision Medicine Initiative begins enrolling participants in cohort

The effort initially will involve 10,000 devices. At the end of the study, the researchers will provide recommendations on how the devices could be more broadly incorporated into the All of Us Research Program.

“The Fitbit devices selected track a combination of physical activity, sleep and heart rate parameters,” said Eric Topol, Founder and Director of STSI. “The popularity of Fitbit devices among millions of Americans, combined with their ease of use, including multi-day battery life and broad compatibility with smartphones, made Fitbit a natural choice for this pilot program.”

The All of Us program’s mission is to accelerate medical breakthroughs, enabling individualized prevention and treatment of disease by enrolling one million or more participants and building one of the world’s largest datasets on health.

The study will look at the potential redefinition of the human phenotype based on real-world, longitudinal data gathered from participants.

Most of what researchers know about the human phenotype is based on “snapshots” of health in a clinical setting or personal recall, said Steven Steinhubl, MD, a cardiologist and director of digital medicine at STSI. Through the collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute, the Fitbit study will collect real-world data from 10,000 volunteers to evaluate how activity, sleep and heart rate patterns differ by age, geography and disease categories.

Additionally, the study will generate a data set that presents a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between health indicators such as physical activity, heart rate and sleep in conjunction with other critical health outcomes that will be captured as part of All of Us.

“As part of the global shift towards precision medicine, wearable data has the potential to inform highly personalized healthcare,” said Adam Pellegrini, General Manager of Fitbit Health Solutions. “Through this historic initiative, we will be able to see the role that Fitbit data can play on the path to better understanding how individualization can help to prevent and treat disease.”

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