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Faces of Baseline: David

Shortly after attending the Project Baseline One-Year Anniversary Celebration, David Norlander officially hit 10 million steps.

| Written by:

Kasley Killam

Community Engagement Manager, Verily

David Norlander, Baseline Explorer

Shortly after attending the Project Baseline One-Year Anniversary Celebration, and 2.5 years after he began tracking his activity, David Norlander officially hit 10 million steps. At roughly 11,000 steps per day, that's more than two times the national average.

So it may come as a surprise that David, a Project Baseline study participant at Stanford Medicine, is 79 years old.

In fact, David has been giving other athletes a run for their money (no pun intended) for decades. At age 60, he got first place for his age division in the Silicon Valley Half Marathon. At age 72, he got second place for his age division in the California International Marathon. During his best 5k and 10k, he ran an average of 6:42 and 6:51 per mile, respectively.

David's circuit board award for first place in the Silicon Valley Half Marathon.

David grew up in Minnesota and spent his career in the Bay Area as an electrical engineer–or, as he put it, a "typical Silicon Valley nerd type." His work with the U.S. military also took him around the world, including extended overseas assignments in Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, and Japan.

David's daughter is a medical doctor and a Type I diabetes researcher who joined the Project Baseline study in November 2017. When she told David about the opportunity to contribute his daily activity data and a range of other health information to research, he joined right away. David also encouraged his former colleague and close friend, Don, to join with him.

Little did they know, a finding from one of the Project Baseline clinical research tests* would trigger David's doctor to perform a series of follow-up tests and, in July 2018, a surgery that likely saved his life.

David (left) and his good friend Don (right), at the Anniversary Celebration.

In the months that followed, David worked closely with his healthcare team. All the while, he kept going for runs and weekly 10-mile hikes with friends. David had never missed a day of work in his life due to sickness, and he wasn't about to let mantle cell lymphoma (cancer of white blood cells) or subdural hematoma (blood between the brain and skull) stop him!

"In retrospect," David shared, "It's unclear how long it would have taken for the effects of lymphoma to be noticeable." When asked what he hopes Project Baseline will achieve in the future, David replied, "Finding out what keeps people on a good health path and how to steer people on a bad health path back to good."

When he turns 80 next year, David plans on running the Avenue of the Giants Marathon in Humboldt Redwoods State Park with his two daughters. David, we're cheering you on!

*While David's experience is inspiring, it's important to note that tests conducted in the Project Baseline study are investigational and conducted for the purpose of research, not medical care. Over time, one of our goals is to better understand how to share results so that the information is useful. You can learn more about this topic in a recent blog post by the co-chair of our Return of Results Committee and in this publication by Project Baseline investigators.

Next story: Faces of Baseline: Rosa

A city in North Carolina will celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, thanks to a Baseline Explorer who organized the event.