The prestigious Mayo Clinic is teaming up with IBM to create a gigantic database of patient information for data mining. Combining electronic medical records for over 4.4 million patients, lab results, x-rays, and other medical information from Mayo’s hospitals, the partnership hopes to customize medical treatment for individual patients based on their genetic makeup and response to drugs or radiation therapies.
In combination with the data mining component of the project, Mayo will use IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputer for molecular modeling in disease research and outcomes.
Sounds cool, if you’re a geek like me. While I think the possible benefits of this are very cool, part of me finds this comprehensive database of personal medical information a bit unsettling. Could something like this be used for monitoring, surveillance, or even discriminatory practices in the future? The temptation for abuse is certainly there, and I don’t think humanity possesses the self-restraint use such power wisely.