- Update: The NIH has extended the submission deadline from February 9 to February 23, 2018.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has put out an informal call for research proposals to harness its growing All of Us big data resources.
The biobank and data repository, designed to accelerate precision medicine and population health research, is quickly moving through its testing phases in preparation for becoming a rich source of genomic, clinical, and lifestyle data for scientists and researchers.
“One of the boldest undertakings that NIH has ever attempted, the All of Us Research Program has been hard at work in a ‘beta’ testing phase, and is now busy gearing up for full recruitment in the spring,” wrote NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in a blog post.
“This historic effort will enroll 1 million or more people in the United States to share information about their health, habits, and what it’s like where they live.”
The beta phase for All of Us has concentrated on creating community partnerships that will foster high enrollment rates among target populations. The program is specifically focusing on recruiting traditionally underserved communities and minority patients in order to develop a realistic portrait of the US population.
During the second half of 2017, the initiative has linked up with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and a number of patient advocacy groups focusing on encouraging Hispanic, Latino, Asian, and African American patients, LGBTQ individuals, senior citizens, and other high-priority groups to contribute their data.
As the initiative prepares for its full debut, the NIH is looking to researchers, clinicians, citizen scientists, and community organizers for innovative ideas about how to leverage the expanding dataset.
“Imagine that the project has already enrolled 1 million participants from all over the country and from diverse backgrounds,” says Collins. “Imagine that they have all agreed to make available their electronic health records, to put on wearable sensors that can track body physiology and environmental exposures, and to provide blood samples for lab testing, including DNA analysis.”
“Is there a particular research question that you think All of Us could help answer? Possible topics include risks of disease, factors that promote wellness, and research on human behavior, prevention, exercise, genetics, environmental health effects, health disparities, and more.”
The NIH is using the Ideascale online survey platform to collect proposals from the community. Participants can vote on potential projects that interest them and contribute multiple research topics after creating an account.
Popular topics already submitted include identifying genetic and environmental factors associated with dental cavities, exploring the origins of autoimmune diseases, understanding the relationship between dietary patterns and chronic diseases susceptibility, and identifying differences in metabolic features of individuals who develop cancer and those who do not.
Interested parties can submit ideas until February 9, says Collins.
“In March, all of these ideas will be discussed at a workshop hosted by the All of Us Research Program,” he added. “Meeting attendees will use this input to set the key research priorities and requirements before the program begins wide-scale enrollment this spring.”
For more information and to submit a proposal, please visit the Ideascale website by clicking here.