By Jennifer Davis Burns, M.S
The All of Us Research Program is introducing the next breakthrough in medicine. You!
We’re all different, but when we visit the doctor, our treatments are often the same. What if your health care was tailored to you? This is called precision medicine, and research can help us get there. Precision medicine is healthcare that is based on each person as an individual. It is made up of three factors: environment, lifestyle, and biology.
The goal is to help build one of the world’s largest and most diverse datasets of its kind by enrolling over one million individuals over the course of 10 years. People who join will share information about their health, habits, and what it’s like where they live. It might also be about family history and genes. This will help researchers understand more about why people get sick or stay healthy. With this type of knowledge, research may help develop: better diagnostic tests, better mobile apps to encourage healthy habits, and better medicine, and information on medicine specific to an individual.
Patients often turn to physicians for questions about their health, and in some cases, the decision on whether or not to participate in medical research. Unfortunately, some patients are distrustful of medical research due to our nation’s history of unethical research. Studies like the Tuskegee study or the Contraceptive Trials in Puerto Rico, have sown seeds of distrust for decades in minority groups in the US, many of whom are now underrepresented in biomedical research. This is understandable, and is why physician participation in this program as a trusted voice is invaluable.
“As an All of Us participant and physician, I recommend this program to my patients and teach medical students about it as well. I see it as a unique opportunity to make patients aware of the program and actionable genes tested, which have the potential to impact their quality of life. Not only does it benefit patients individually, the program also benefits the community and science as a whole by looking for environmental trends directly impacting health within certain areas. By signing up, an individual contributes to building one of the most diverse databases to date. I feel comfortable sharing this program with patients because the data is de-identified and the program utilizes strict security protocols.” - John V. Irle, MD
When a community is left out of medical research, they may miss out on the benefits of earlier prevention, more accurate treatments, and possibly even cures. This is about improving the future of care for all of us. To date, over 690,000 people have registered with the program by creating an online account. Participants not only receive compensation for their time but also have the option to receive free DNA results, including ancestry, genetic traits, information about potential medical conditions or diseases, and genes that could have an adverse drug reaction. Taking part is free and is open to anyone in the United States over the age of 18 (age 19 in Alabama).
UAB Huntsville Regional Medical Campus is a local partner with the All of Us Research Program. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8am -5pm at 301 Governors Drive, Huntsville, AL 35801. If you would like more information, call (256) 551-4420.
If you are interested in participating, go to JoinAllofUs.org/UABHuntsville
- Create an account
- Give your consent
- Agree to share your electronic health records
- Complete the consent to get DNA results
- Answer health surveys
- Have your measurements taken (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.) and give a blood and urine sample.
After completing these steps, you’ll receive $25.
Jennifer Davis Burns, M.S is a program manager at UAB Medicine.