- The All of Us precision medicine initiative is continuing its steady growth with a new round of grants aimed at bolstering recruiting efforts and enrolling a diverse patient population in the large-scale genomic databank.
The National Institutes of Health is doling out $13.8 million to three sets of healthcare provider organizations serving patients in the Deep South and Midwestern states.
“We want this program to reflect the rich diversity of our country,” said Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program at NIH. “Expanding our national network of health care provider organizations enhances our ability to reach communities traditionally underrepresented in medical research.”
“Working with participants across the country, we hope to contribute to medical breakthroughs that may lead to more tailored disease prevention and treatment solutions in the future.”
Providers at a number of large healthcare systems will work to recruit patients for the research initiative, focusing on typically underserved and underrepresented ethnic, racial, and clinical groups.
Integrating genomic, clinical, and socioeconomic data from patients of diverse backgrounds is a major objective for the program, which recently allocated $1.7 million in funding to community organizations with the targeted mission of bringing patients of varied ethnic, cultural, and racial backgrounds into the initiative.
“We’re committed to ensuring that participant perspectives are considered throughout every aspect of the program,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, All of Us chief engagement officer, in July. “Guaranteeing a voice to those who are typically underrepresented in medical research is step one.”
The new expansion will continue to work towards this goal by collecting a wide variety of data from participants, including socioeconomic and lifestyle information, environmental data, and biological samples.
The three new networks sharing in the $13.8 million funding include:
Southern All of Us Network: University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama; Huntsville Hospital, Alabama; Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans; Tulane Medical Center, New Orleans; Tuskegee University, Alabama; UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama; UAB School of Medicine’s Montgomery Internal Medicine and Selma Family Medicine programs, Birmingham, Alabama; University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson; University of South Alabama Health System, Mobile; University Medical Center, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
SouthEast Enrollment Center: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida; Emory University, Atlanta; Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta; and the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium led by the University of Florida in Gainesville
All of Us, Wisconsin: Marshfield Clinic Research Institute; BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison
The All of Us program is currently in its “beta testing” phase, Dishman said in June. While the ultimate goal is to collect data from one million patients, the beta test will start by working to recruit 10,000 patients in an effort to establish best practices and guidelines for future precision medicine work.
“As with every aspect of the program, we’re starting small with enrollment and scaling up carefully as we go, beginning with one site and gradually expanding to more than 100 sites nationally during the beta phase,” Dishman wrote in a blog post earlier this summer.
“Our beta testers will help us find problems with our systems and processes, so we can fix them and improve the experience for everyone going forward. And most importantly, they will help us evaluate and improve our messaging, our engagement approaches, and our relationship building with diverse communities across the country.”
The initiative hopes to finish laying much of its community groundwork by the beginning of 2018, at which point it plans to accelerate its growth and continue to collect large volumes of patient data to supply personalized medicine researchers with a wealth of data for an endless variety of investigations.
“By providing information about their health, lifestyles, and environments over the course of many decades, these volunteers will be important partners in helping create an unprecedented research resource to drive future discoveries,” Dishman said.
“This resource will be easily accessible to researchers of all kinds, from citizen scientists to investigators in academia and industry, for studies on a variety of health topics.”