Apple’s new Research app to serve as platform for three medical studies

Several major academic and healthcare institutions are partnering with Apple to leverage a new app for medical research intended to reach more participants than has previously been possible.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant announced on Tuesday that three medical studies will be available on Apple’s Research app later this year as a free download in the App Store.

“The studies will be available on the new Research app, which democratizes how medical research is conducted by bringing together academic medical institutions, healthcare organizations and the Apple products customers already make a part of their everyday life,” states the announcement. “Participants will contribute to potential medical discoveries and help create the next generation of innovative health products.”

The company calls these three separate studies “unprecedented” and says they will examine factors that impact hearing, heart health and mobility, as well as women’s health.

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Apple is joining forces with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for the “first long-term study of this scale focused on menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions,” which “will inform screening and risk assessment of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, osteoporosis, pregnancy and menopausal transition.”

Also, Apple is partnering with the University of Michigan on what is being called the “first-of-its-kind” study to collect data to understand how everyday sound exposure can affect hearing, which will be shared with a World Health Organization initiative to promote safe listening practices.

In addition, Apple is teaming with the American Heart Association and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to study how heart rate and mobility relate to hospitalizations, falls, heart health and quality of life to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.

Earlier this year, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine presented preliminary results of the Apple Heart Study—a virtual study with more than 400,000 enrolled participants—which found that wearable technology can safely identify heart rate irregularities that subsequent testing confirmed to be atrial fibrillation.

For the Apple Heart Study, researchers leveraged ResearchKit—Apple’s open source framework that makes it easier to enroll participants in studies and to gather their data.

“With the Apple Heart Study, we found that we could positively impact medical research in ways that help patients today and that make contributions that will benefit future generations,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Today’s announcement carries our commitment to health even further by engaging with participants on a larger scale than ever before.”

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