SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — UCSF scientists are hoping that a newly reconfigured research app goes viral and generates data that can be used to fight against the coronavirus.

Dr. Gregory Marcus is a cardiologist who helps to run a digital research platform called Eureka. The platform was funded by the National Institutes of Health and was built to facilitate mobile health cardiology research using smart phones.

Dr. Marcus realized amid the coronavirus pandemic, with so little known about the virus, that researchers could quickly repurpose the use of the platform to gather data about COVID-19.

The idea: to create opportunities for any adult to become a “citizen scientist.” The team hopes to enroll at least one million participants. The more individuals who participate, the bigger the data.

Hunkered down in the comfort of her Tiburon home, Marissa Miller is a newly-minted citizen scientist.

“It was a no brainer to sign up,” said Miller. “And so far, it’s been really interesting. And I feel a little proud that I’m participating in the cause.”

The goal is to advance the understanding of how and where the virus spreads, as well as why it’s lethal in some people, but not others.

The hope? That the app goes viral, in a good way.

“They’re hoping every participant shares it with five of their friends, who will share it with five of their friends, and so on,” said Miller.

We’d like to show how contact among individuals can actually spread science and spread solutions, said Dr. Marcus.

Once the app is downloaded, there’s an initial survey covering health and daily habits. The app then gives the option of sharing location and other data, such as step counts.

“They pop up in the morning and just let me know its time to check in,” explained Miller.

Participants answer surveys. Some of them are daily.

“We ask about symptoms. We ask about people in the household, and we try to get a sense of their actual social distancing,” said Dr. Marcus.

As for security and privacy concerns, Dr. Marcus says, “All the data is as secure as we can make it. Its essentially part of the University of California.

To sign up, text COVID to 41411 or go to this website: COVID19.eurekaplatform.org.

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