Last summer, we were both participants in Y Combinator, a program for entrepreneurs that changed both of our lives. We came together as part of a group of female founders, who were also leading companies in the health / life sciences space. uBiome was founded to analyze the microbiome by giving participants access to their own microbiome data. PicnicHealth was founded to give patients access to their complete medical records.
It was a crazy summer, but one of the things we learned was the importance of collaboration, launching things quickly, not being afraid to do something bold and new.
Today, we announce a ground-breaking partnership to advance research on role of the microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, using validated clinical data. The partnership will give hundreds of patients access to their medical records and to an analysis of their gut microbiome, free of charge.
We couldn’t be more excited! Here’s why:
IBD is pretty awful. Patients suffer from chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and other symptoms. Currently, treatment options include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, and in severe cases, even surgery to remove parts of the intestines. More than a million and half Americans have been diagnosed and Noga Leviner, PicnicHealth’s Co-Founder and CEO, happens to be one of them. (Here are some more personal words on why this is meaningful to her as a patient.)
As part of this study, participants will have access to their own data, something that almost never happens in medical research. IBD patients will get access to all of the medical records we collect through a personalized health timeline created by PicnicHealth. Because we clean up and structure all of the data, they’ll be able to see things like trends in key lab tests that they have never seen before. They’ll also get to learn about the ecosystem of microbes and see how it compares with other participants and relates to current scientific research.
Getting all of this data together in one place is a big deal. The partnership will produce a first of its kind data set that has real prospects for making an important contribution to science and hopefully, eventually, for actually improving people’s lives. Pulling together these two data sources is non trivial and remains a major barrier for researchers.
How’d we do it? By putting patients at the center of our work. By organizing scientific research around you, the participant, we can generate better data. It is our goal to use this data to produce meaningful scientific results that can lead to new diagnostics and therapeutics.
As it turns out, lots of people really want their personal data and lots of people really want to help contribute to science. We hope you’ll join us!