Groundbreaking study will collect and analyze data on menstrual and gynecological health to improve overall understanding of women’s health needs. Study has potential to be largest study of its scope and scale.
For immediate release: Thursday, November 14, 2019
Boston, MA – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Apple, and the National Institutes of Health today launched the Apple Women’s Health Study, a large-scale longitudinal study led by a team of researchers at Harvard Chan School that aims to advance understanding of menstrual and gynecological health.
This first-of-its-kind study will shed light on women’s overall health needs across the lifespan and has the potential to become the largest and longest-running longitudinal study focused on women’s health.
“Treating the menstrual cycle as a vital sign, such as heart rate or blood pressure, could lead to the earlier detection of many health conditions, both gynecological and systemic, as well as a better understanding of women’s reproductive health and health needs overall,” said study researcher Shruthi Mahalingaiah, assistant professor of environmental reproductive and women’s health at Harvard Chan School. “We are uniquely poised to translate this data into discovery that will lead to better awareness and empowerment around women’s health issues on a global scale.”
Users can enroll and participate in the study by downloading the Apple Research app, available on iPhone. The study will collect data, such as cycle tracking information, and use monthly surveys to understand each participant’s unique menstrual experience. The study, which will last many years, also seeks to analyze the impact of certain behaviors and habits, such as physical activity and mobility, on a wide breadth of reproductive health topics.
“In the past it’s been very difficult to quantify behavioral factors,” said study researcher Jukka-Pekka Onnela, associate professor of biostatistics at Harvard Chan School. “With data from smartphones and wearable devices, we can eventually measure these factors unobtrusively over long periods of time. This is scientifically incredibly exciting, and I believe that this research will enable more effective and more personalized interventions in the future.”
Michelle A. Williams, a reproductive epidemiologist and dean of the faculty at Harvard Chan School, is leading the study as a principal investigator, along with Harvard Chan co-principal investigators Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw Professor of Reproductive Physiology and chair of the Department of Environmental Health, and Brent Coull, professor of biostatistics and associate chair of the Department of Biostatistics.
photo: Maciej Noskowski
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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.