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Steven Leckart

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Self-Storage How Data Sharing Is Driving Medical Care

Data sharing is driving medical care, and we should all opt in.


One of the greatest undertakings in modern medicine didn’t begin in a lab or a doctor’s office, but on the streets of a small town 20 miles southwest of Boston. In 1948, the U.S. Public Health Service chose Framingham, Massachusetts, as ground zero for a long-term study on heart disease. In their book, A Change of Heart, Daniel Levy and Susan Brink describe how a team of local volunteers went door to door, spoke at PTA meetings, and made countless phone calls to sign up their neighbors.

The Framingham Heart Study was unprecedented in scale and size. Researchers examined 5,209 adults, measuring each by 80 variables including cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and lung capacity. The plan: Re-examine those same patients every two years, write down everything on paper, and file it away. The idea: Look for patterns in the data over time. As Levy and Brink put it, “Science is a collaboration, not an isolated effort. It is like a relay race toward answers.”

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