Google calls for guinea pigs for ambitious ‘Baseline’ health study
Google’s latest project from its Google X “Moonshot” division is every bit as ambitious as some of its robotics and communications projects like Glass. Google wants to map how the human body behaves when it’s healthy, which could dramatically improve modern medicine. Google’s study will initially take 175 volunteers from various groups of ethnicity, habit and area and conduct testing of methods and practices to inform a much larger study later on. The study is currently limited to the US, but Google will not say where for fear of biassing the study. By keeping the location a secret the study can screen out bias of people specifically seeking out Google’s study, which could skew the results. The man in control of the study is Dr. Andrew Conrad of Google X, but Google is not conducting the experiment alone: Duke University and Stanford University medical schools are working closely with the search giant to design the experiments and study the data. The actual study of participants will be conducted by a clinical partner, which is standard practice for human studies. The study will be run by a doctor at a medical clinic who will be acting as the principle investigator – similar to the professors and doctors that oversee scientific and medical projects in academic labs that employ PhD students – despite Conrad leading the project from Google’s end. Google is providing money to get the project off the ground, in a similar way to other scientific funding bodies. Google has built a team of around 100 scientists, including Conrad, who was the chief scientific officer of a diagnostics lab firm LabCorp, and Dr. Vikram Bajaj, a biochemist and chemical physicist who moved from University California Berkeley. Eventually, Google will also design and develop new wearable technology to monitor the health of participants in the study, providing more data on things like heart rate, blood pressure and possibly going as far as body chemistry as they go about their daily lives – the ultimate quantified self. Google’s vast computing power, used to run its search engine and various other services, also make a big contribution to how effective the study can be. Baseline is being funded by Google X, which was set up to “Focus on problems that affect millions of people in their daily lives and try to tackle them from a completely new perspective”. Google Glass and the company’s self-driving cars are also products of Google X. Google states that the “Research is intended as a contribution to science; it’s not intended to generate a new product at Google.” That sounds altruistic, and it could be, but it could also give Google a route into a lucrative health market much further down the line, not directly from this study or the experiments and data from within it, but from spin-off ideas.
Guinea Pig Health » Galens Garden
The main health problems guinea pigs suffer from tend to be parasitic or fungal skin problems which commonly occur during major seasonal changes such as occur in Spring and Autumn. Other things that guinea pig owners worry about, but which are quite common and not too serious, are sticky bottom in boars and a build up of waxy material around the ‘grease spot’ of guinea pigs of both sexes. Another common problem affecting guinea pigs seems to be urinary tract problems including gravel or stones in the urinary tract or cystitis. The fatter a guinea pig is, the more likely it is to sit in its own urine and the harder it will be for the guinea pig to clean itself. Respiratory infections can be very distressing for both the guinea pig and their owner. Eye infections can occur in guinea pigs just as they do in humans, but guinea pigs do have a higher incidence of eye injuries than other animals, often caused by coarse hay or seeds. Dental problems are not uncommon in guinea pigs and some guinea pigs are more susceptible than others to ‘scabby mouth’ infections. Guinea pigs, like all prey animals, are adept at hiding the symptoms of illness until they are very sick indeed. Owners are often the first to spot that there is ‘something wrong’ with the sick guinea pig but can’t quite put their finger on it. In the beginning the signs may be very subtle, a sick guinea pig may simply eat less, drink more, move less, look odd around the eyes, scratch more, but not enough to warrant a trip to the vet. Always trust your hunches as a guinea pig owner and if you feel your guinea pig is sick then observe it closely over a 24 hour period. A guinea pig which is hunched up with fur stocking out, eyes half close and barely moving is very, very sick indeed. Stuff coming out of the mouth is always a sign that the guinea pig is sick. You will find a lot of useful guinea pig health links on our cavy links page. Including links to emergency advice, the CCT, Peter Gurney’s pages and Eva Johansson’s sick guinea pig pages.