Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Collaboration with Verily Aims to Deepen Understanding of Parkinson’s

Verily Study Watch (Image credit: Verily)

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and Verily Life Sciences LLC, have formed a partnership to monitor Parkinson’s patients. The collaboration aims to use Verily’s smartwatch to collect data on people with Parkinson’s disease and ultimately help accelerate advancements in early diagnosis, find new treatments and better manage the condition.

Around 1 million people are affected by Parkinson’s disease in the United States, and globally the disease affects 5 million people. The highest risk factor for Parkinson’s is age, and since people are living longer the condition is becoming more common.

The Research

Verily will provide Verily Study Watches to more than 800 people in the U.S., who are already taking part in the MJFF-led Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) – an $80 million longitudinal study. The study uses standardized methods to collect rich data and abundant biological samples, which grow in value.

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“From the start, PPMI has made precious biological samples and rich clinical data from its large and diverse cohort available to qualified researchers around the world in response to the urgent need for improved methods to accelerate testing of novel treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” says Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of MJFF.


The Verily Study Watch looks just like a classic watch with a numeric dial. The watch is originally designed to collect and catalog tremors that are linked with the disease. It collects data on movement and various physiologic and environmental measures nearly all day, every day. The raw and curated data will be supplied to qualified researchers worldwide, which will enable them to get a precise measure of how symptoms of Parkinson’s change in real time.

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Ritu Kapur, neurology product manager of Verily says:

“We believe that unlocking new types of data and bringing together many dimensions of data–digital, molecular, clinical–will be critical to making a big impact on the lives of those with challenging neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.”

At 33 locations across the globe, open-sourced data are being delivered to researchers. The information have been downloaded 1.7 million times since 2010.

The goal of MJFF is to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s and eventually annihilate it. The organization has bestowed more than $800 million to Parkinson’s research to speed up clinical trials. Presently, PPMI has around 1,500 participants worldwide. Its ultimate goal is to initiate a framework and a dataset which could be used to learn about the disease better and also testing for new treatments, says Sherer.

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Johanna Mischke
Johanna Mischke () is Editor-in-Chief at WT | Wearable Technologies – the pioneer and worldwide leading innovation and market development platform for technologies worn close to the body, on the body or even in the body. Besides being an expert for wearables and their broader ecosystem she is experienced in the startup world and international marketing. Johanna can be reached at j.mischke(at)wearable-technologies.com.