Apple‘s health team has hired an obstetrician, Dr. Christine Curry, to look into how the company can bolster its efforts in women’s health, among other projects, according to three people familiar with the hire.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook has described health care as a growing priority and a major part of Apple’s legacy. He told CNBC’s Jim Cramer in January, “If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health.”
Apple has hired dozens of doctors to work across a variety of projects, including its so-called “AC Wellness clinics” for Apple employees and its health-tracking Apple Watch. Curry has a particular interest in women’s health, but she’ll be working on various issues across the health teams, one of the people said.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Curry is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, California. She has not updated her profile to reflect that she works at Apple, although that’s not uncommon given the value that Apple places on secrecy.
Apple declined to comment. Curry did not respond to an inquiry.
Studies have found that women’s health companies have historically struggled to raise funding. It’s also often an overlooked area, including briefly by Apple when the company first launched its HealthKit service in 2015 and claimed to offer “comprehensive” health tracking but did not include reproductive health. It quickly rectified that with a service called Apple Reproductive Health, adding features for menstruation, ovulation test results, basal body temperature and more (still, that service has been critiqued in reviews for being a little challenging to use.)
Since then, there’s been an explosion of health apps from third-party developers that are geared to women, such as apps for tracking fertility, connecting with a doctor and so on. But Apple could do even more when it comes to women’s health, both in hardware and software, in areas like pregnancy, fertility tracking and improving diversity in clinical research.
Curry’s online profile notes that she worked in a women’s prison facility in Massachusetts, and led a clinical response effort to the Zika virus in the obstetrics populations at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. That made her South Florida’s go-to doctor for pregnant women with Zika, which earned her a profile in Cosmopolitan.
Apple Watch competitor Fitbit is also looking into women’s health, and has an advisor that engages with its community, Dr. Katherine White, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. When Fitbit released its new women’s health, the company referred to it in a blog post as one of its community’s “most requested features.”