The National Institutes of Health will officially begin national enrollment on May 6 for the Precision Medicine Initiative’s All of Us research program, an effort to recruit a million or more participants to contribute their physical, genomic and electronic health record data.
On Sunday, NIH will hold community launch events in seven U.S. cities—including Birmingham, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Nashville, New York and Pasco, Wash.—as well as an online event to start enrolling volunteers with the goal of creating one of the largest and most diverse biomedical datasets of its kind for medical research.
According to NIH, the EHR data leveraged by the All of Us program will “offer useful information related to medical histories, side effects and treatment effectiveness” to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.
In addition to providing blood and urine samples as well as access to their EHRs, program participants will share information through wearable devices, physical measurements and surveys.
However, NIH officials insist that data will flow both ways—volunteers will be able to access their own health information, summary data about all the participants, as well as details about findings that arise from the program.
“The All of Us research program is an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to be represented in research and pioneer the next era of medicine,” said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, in a written statement. “The time is now to transform how we conduct research—with participants as partners—to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us.”
The program is open to adults ages 18 and older, regardless of health status. In particular, NIH wants to oversample communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in medical research. The agency says that future phases of the program will enroll children.
“Building a diverse participant community will be vital to the success of All of Us, so we can address the many pressing health conditions that disproportionately affect underrepresented communities,” adds Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, chief engagement officer for the program. “The All of Us research program has the potential to help researchers better understand and begin chipping away at health disparities so that everyone can benefit from better health, better healthcare and exciting new breakthroughs.”
So far, more than 25,000 participants have already enrolled in the program as part of a year-long beta test designed to get ready for the May 6 national enrollment launch.
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