Nationwide clinical research program to improve population health reports on early progress

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Aug. 29, 2019

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Catherine Morrow
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catherine.a.morrow@emory.edu

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The National Institutes of Health’s historic All of Us Research Program released initial summary data from thousands of participants and reported considerable progress in its mission to advance precision medicine. Program leaders recently shared news of the initiative in a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Emory University, a part of the program’s SouthEast Enrollment Center (SEEC) network, is conducting its portion of the research study at four clinical locations in and around Atlanta and has so far enrolled more than 2,300 participants. 

The nationwide program launched last year and aims to include data from one million or more people from diverse communities. As of July 2019, more than 230,000 people have enrolled around the country and a majority are from groups that have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research, authors of the NEJM paper said.

The data will be accessible to approved researchers, and participants will be able to receive information back about themselves. 

“The data will promote critical research that can improve the lives and health of the people in Georgia as well as empower individuals to actively manage their health and healthcare,” says Michael Zwick, PhD, assistant vice president for research in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “Emory is excited to be part of this momentous effort.”

A goal of the study is to improve population health through the identification of risk factors and biomarkers (including environmental exposures, habits, and social determinants) to allow more efficient and accurate diagnosis and screening and the development of new treatments and more informed use of existing ones.

Precision medicine is an emerging field in disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. By partnering with a million diverse people who share information about themselves over many years, the All of Us Research Program will enable research discoveries that may lead to  a more targeted approach in patient care. 

Participants contribute information in a variety of ways, including surveys; electronic health records (EHR); physical measurements; blood, urine, and saliva samples; and Fitbit devices. In the future, the program will begin genotyping and whole-genome sequencing participants’ biological samples.

The All of Us team will now begin demonstration projects to assess the usefulness and validity of the data set before launching a secure platform for researchers to conduct analyses.

The SEEC network also includes the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium led by the University of Florida. 

To learn more about Georgia enrollment in the project through Emory, please visit https://allofus.emory.edu.