Trenton Health Team and Scripps Research Digital Trials Center invite Trenton residents to join an innovative two-year medical research project using fitness trackers to identify and track viral illnesses, such as COVID-19.

Participants agree to share health data collected through fitness trackers, such as a Fitbit, Apple Watch or a smartphone, with medical scientists who analyze the data looking for clues to better monitor and control the spread of infectious disease. This approach enables anyone, anywhere to contribute to — and benefit from — medical research.

“THT has been serving Trenton for more than a decade and we are excited about this opportunity,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “Participating in this study can help improve detection and treatment of illness.”

Recent research has shown that when people start to get sick, there can be changes in the rate of their heartbeat, as well as daily sleep and activity patterns measured by fitness trackers. By watching this information over time, the Scripps Research team hopes to identify the start of an infection outbreak much earlier, ideally before people become seriously ill.

Participants must be at least 18 years old. Anyone can join with their own wearable. If you don’t have a wearable, one may be provided for you. Participants also will be able to access up-to-date information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization within the MyDataHelps app. To learn more, contact Nickisha Williams at 609-337-2104 .

“Medical research is key to better health care — but people of color are often overlooked,” said THT Director of Population Health Coiel Ricks-Stephen. “DETECT is a fun and easy way to help extend research benefits to all of us.”

Participants can decide what data to share with researchers. Data will be made anonymous to help keep it private and secure. And participants can stop sharing data with the DETECT program at any time by withdrawing from the study.

Researchers warn that participating in this study is not a substitute for medical care. Anyone who has health questions or experiences symptoms should contact a physician.

The Scripps Research Digital Trials Center conducts translational and clinical research, including digital clinical trials using genomics and digital medicine. A new artificial intelligence-based system developed by SRTI researchers seeks to identify COVID-19 cases without conventional testing, by analyzing data shared from popular consumer wearable devices like Fitbit and the Apple Watch, along with self-reported symptoms.