NIH partners with Apple and Harvard University on women’s health study

Sept. 12, 2019

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Apple, and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health announced their research partnership for a major long-term study of women’s health. The collaboration will permit researchers to study conditions including pregnancy, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopausal transition, and osteoporosis. Apple’s new Research App will help users participate in the study and will be a free download in the App Store later this year.

The intention is to improve women’s health by identifying the factors that impact women from around the country. This new study will connect academic medical institutions, healthcare organizations, and Apple products with the goal of contributing to medical science and helping to create the next generation of innovative health software.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the NIH institute involved in the partnership, has several of the world’s leading scientists on women’s health and population studies. NIEHS will provide expert advice and data analysis for the Apple Women’s Health Study.

"This is an exciting opportunity for NIEHS researchers to contribute to the study design and use the resulting data to answer novel questions, not only important to women of reproductive age, but to women of all ages," said Dale Sandler, PhD, chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.

Allen Wilcox, MD, PhD, Scientist Emeritus at NIEHS, has spent 40 years studying fertility and pregnancy, and welcomes this opportunity to work with Apple and colleagues at Harvard. He is optimistic about the medical advances that could come from this collaboration.

"Studies conducted with commercial cycle and fertility tracking apps have great potential for making important contributions to science, because they can enroll much larger samples of women and from far more diverse backgrounds," added Wilcox. "We want to do our part to make this new method of data collection a scientifically valid source of health information."

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