Our Mission

The Human Project is a groundbreaking research platform being developed as a public resource to solve some of the toughest challenges we face. By discovering critical connections between our biology, behavior, and environment, it aims to enable major advancements in medicine, yield new therapeutics, advance our understanding of human behavior, and foster evidence-based public policies that improve lives.

Many of the solutions to big human challenges hide in plain sight.

When the telescope was invented, scientists discovered whole worlds we never knew existed, and came to understand how the universe and our own world work. When the microscope was invented, scientists revealed an inner universe, a world in a drop of water. That triggered whole new scientific fields and a deeper understanding of human health what makes us sick and how to keep us well.

Now, The Human Project at New York University is making the next giant leap by allowing scientists to discover and connect important clues that have been hiding in plain sight. By uncovering millions of invisible connections between ourselves and others, between our behavior and our environment, we can solve the puzzle to a better, longer life.

What is The Human Project?

The Human Project is a pioneering research initiative that aims to solve our community’s biggest challenges — from preventing diabetes and asthma to improving schools and relieving financial stress. Starting in 2018, we will invite 10,000 New Yorkers to share the tiny bits of information they create from moment to moment, every day. This simple act will help scientists reveal how all the millions of tiny puzzle pieces in our lives connect together, making New York — and our wider world — a cleaner, safer, and happier place to live.

Why now?

Despite all our medical and scientific progress, we still suffer poor health and lose years of our lives to terrible diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. We still miss out on opportunities due to poverty and poor education. We still struggle to find affordable housing and worry about our children’s safety and well-being. These challenges may seem impossible to overcome. But for the first time in history, we have the tools to uncover how our bodies, behavior, and environment shape our lives — allowing scientists to identify breakthrough solutions that can ensure a better, brighter future for all of us.

How does it work?

Starting with precise demographic maps of the five boroughs, researchers will use a careful, scientific process to create a study group that accurately reflects the overall New York City population and the diverse neighborhoods in which they live. Researchers will then identify and invite 10,000 New Yorkers to participate —not just as volunteers, but as representatives of their communities — so that the study can make discoveries that benefit everyone.

How can it help?

Using supercomputers housed in The Human Project’s ultra-secure data vault, scientists can seek solutions to big health and public policy questions. Some of the issues they might explore include:

Alzheimer’s disease

Many researchers believe the answer to Alzheimer’s lies in prevention, but we know so little about what causes the disease. By uncovering how our bodies, behavior, and environment contribute, our study may provide clues that can help to reduce risk.

Public transit

By studying how New Yorkers get around, we’ll be able to monitor congestion patterns to identify underserved communities. We’ll learn how a tough commute affects health, quality of life, and costs, so we can pursue equitable, evidence-based solutions.


By bringing in- and out-of-school data together, we can better understand the complex factors that influence student success. We could build “early warning systems” to identify and support at-risk students before they truly begin to struggle.

Depression and mental health

So many people struggle with depression and other mental health issues. Early intervention can reduce hospitalizations and suicide rates. We could develop tools to predict acute depressive episodes, so people can get help when it makes the most difference.

Diet and nutrition

We’ll better understand the dietary choices people make and how those affect health. That could enable more consistent guidance about healthy eating and help policymakers improve access to high-quality food in every neighborhood.

Gentrification and affordable housing

By following New Yorkers over 20 years, we’ll gain new insights about what happens as a community gentrifies? Who stays? Who leaves? How are those families affected and what specific steps might we take to ease their challenges?

Protecting participants

The Human Project takes participant privacy so seriously that we have a council of experts dedicated specifically to this aspect of the study. Much of the founding investment in the project is focused on data security, which will exceed protections used at banks and other high-security institutions. Our data vault won’t communicate with the Internet, and all information will be anonymized and encrypted, so participants cannot be identified. Only researchers whose proposals meet our scientific merit and ethics standards can work with data from our system, and nobody can take or keep any data, ever — the only thing researchers get to keep are the findings from their studies.