Public-Private Team for Blockchain Public Health Study

Announcements, Blockchain, Innovation, News, Regulation | June 7, 2017 By:

Blockchain startup Bitmark will fund a UC Berkeley School of Public Health study using user-donated data held on the company’s blockchain technology.

Bitmark, a Taiwan-based company that has created a blockchain system for digital property ownership, has partnered with UC Berkeley to empower individuals to donate their personal data to advance public health. This initiative would mark the first public application of the Bitmark system.

The startup’s blockchain system structures and converts an individuals’ personal data into digital property, called bitmarks. Each bitmark serves as an ownership record, which is transferred to an open-source Bitmark blockchain. Here, researchers are able to publicly link their own identity to individuals’ personal data to foster trust between researchers and donors.

The Taiwanese startup is developing the “Bitmark bot” that connect researchers to potential data donors through popular Messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat.

Students will know exactly where their data is being used and for what purposes; researchers can directly confirm the provenance of data and the students’ consent to use it. Behind the scenes, the Bitmark bot interfaces with the Bitmark blockchain to provide a verifiable record of data donations, protecting both the researcher and data donor, without relying on central intermediaries.

Madelena Ng, a doctoral student in Public Health, and Victor Villalobos, a doctoral candidate in Public Health, are the two fellows who will be using Bitmark technology in their future studies. In addition to funding support, Bitmark has committed to providing dedicated engineering resources to work closely with fellowship recipients to help them realize their research goals.

“Our phones and Fitbits track our steps, calories, sleep cycles, and more. This data is empowering and helps improve our wellbeing,” said Bitmark CEO Sean Moss-Pultz. “It can also aid research in myriad areas. Through our partnership with UC Berkeley, we all can become data philanthropists and help advance public health.”

“Berkeley is excited to partner with Bitmark on this fellowship,” said Lauren Goldstein, PhD, Director of Research Development, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley. “It is a great opportunity for our young researchers to gain valuable hands-on experience at the intersection of public health and technology.”