Open Humans helps people use their medical data for the common good

Lead Investigator Madeleine Ball talks about the Open Humans Network.

Today Open Humans launches its online network to connect people like you and me with research studies at Harvard, New York University and the University of California, San Diego. RELATED LINKS

Prototype Fund winner Max Ogden building a data-sharing ecosystem” by Vignesh Ramachandran, 03/26/15 

Open Humans was one of the winners of the 2013 Knight News Challenge on health data, which was also funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation. We asked the question, “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?” and Open Humans won with the idea of building an online portal to connect people willing to share their personal health information with medical researchers, potentially leading to medical breakthroughs.

At Knight Foundation we’re interested in the ways in which we can use new technologies and behaviors to be better informed. We see information about our health as an important aspect of that. It’s why we were grateful to see the revamped The Wait We Carry site launch last week, an effort by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to make transparent the challenges veterans face receiving health care and other benefits. Similarly, we see Open Humans as an important experiment in reimagining how individuals might pool our personal data for the greater good of all.

Do you have an idea for using a new tool or approach to better inform communities? If so, please check out the Knight Prototype Fund, which funds the testing of early-stage idea. It’s open for applications through May 15. Apply at

John Bracken is vice president for media innovation at Knight Foundation.