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Future Thinking

Will 'big data' prevent disease?

Think of ways to improve global health and you might suggest increasing the number of vaccinations, finding new drugs or employing more doctors.

But biologist and genetics entrepreneur Linda Avey, believes the answer is data. A lot of data.

Dr Avey is the co-founder of personal genomics company 23andMe.

She believes that sensors and test give us the ability to collect data about our bodies that has until now been invisible. This, coupled with advances in computer technology that allow us to store and process massive amounts of data, will have a transformative effect on health care, she says. 

The Alzheimer’s researcher envisages a day when all of us routinely collect information about our bodies, allowing doctors to spot vital changes and diagnose disease much earlier than before. 

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