NIH All of Us Program Seeks Participants for Biomedical Database | News

“A more diverse health database is crucial to better serving our community,” Josh Perez, tour director for the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us research program, told YES! Weekly on Monday.

“It allows our medical teams to come together and create drugs that address individual needs instead of general treatment for the masses. This actually allows them to fine-tune what is going to help the individual.

The NIH All of Us research program aims to collect and study data on the health and well-being of more than one million people in the United States. The program’s Journey mobile exhibit travels the country with the goal of engaging communities that have historically been underrepresented in medical research. The goal is to advance precision medicine by creating the most diverse health databases of its kind.

That’s why the NIH’s All of Us Journey Mobile Exhibit will be held in Greensboro at the Moses H. Cone Hospital today, March 30, and then at the Windsor Recreation Center through Friday, April 1.

When the unprecedented program began in 2018, it was to continue uninterrupted until 2028, but was suspended in 2020 due to the dangers of COVID. It has now resumed and Perez described the program’s mission as more important than ever in the wake of the pandemic.

“With situations occurring as suddenly as Covid, it’s hard to say what we will face in the future, but that being said, the medical community having access to a wider range of DNA samples to perform testing with is something that will give us a better chance of being able to protect ourselves from anything that might happen in the future.

Perez described the mobile exhibit as consisting of a 28-foot trailer housing a variety of activity stations designed to educate people on the importance of a more diverse health database. The exhibit highlights hands-on activities, including a digital play center and augmented reality experience, designed to learn more about the program.

“People can actually walk through and experience the All of Us journey and learn about the importance of precision medicine, as well as the steps they can take to participate. So it’s kind of a one-stop shop.

The interactive stations are designed to help visitors of all ages learn about precision medicine research, but only adults 18 and older can register for the national program.

Perez explained that program staff are fully immunized and that staff and participants must wear masks, maintain social distancing, sanitize their hands, undergo temperature checks and complete digital tracing forms. All surfaces are cleaned and disinfected before, during and after the event.

Since 2018, more than 320,000 people have registered. Of these participants, more than 80% reside in communities that have historically been underrepresented in biomedical research. Fifty percent of participants belong to racial and ethnic minority groups. Researchers will use the data gained through their participation to learn how biology, lifestyle and the environment affect health, with the ultimate goal of discovering or inventing better ways to treat and prevent disease.

In its journey through the Piedmont Triad, the tour will be assisted by local partners, including the region’s Health Education Center (AHEC) and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH).

In addition to adding diversity to the country’s health database, the program is designed to learn more about how we are affected by the impact of our physical and psychological environment.

“So many factors can have so many different effects,” Perez said, “not just physically but psychologically, and of course the latter then becomes physical. A fairly common example. The different effects on a person in a city, who may be working in construction, while a person in a more rural environment may not be exposed to the same noise on a daily basis. The construction guy might be exposed to noisy machinery, traffic, sirens and all the sounds of passersby, which the person in the rural area might not be exposed to.


An example of this might be when both people are hearing impaired.

“If they both needed hearing aids in the future, they probably wouldn’t be better served by the same type of device, but would actually need individual hearing aids tailored to their hearing needs. Not being able to hear and not having the resources to get that help can be extremely detrimental to a person’s state of mind. We are social creatures and tend to be able to thrive when we can move around comfortably in our social situations.

Perez emphasized the confidentiality of all data received from program participants.

“The one thing we most want people to know is that everyone who participates can be comfortable knowing that we are keeping all of their information private. So if they’re concerned about any kind of privacy breach or anything like that, we take extreme precautions to make sure we’re giving them the best chance of staying as completely private as possible. If this is going to hold people back, I’d like them to know that their privacy is our priority.

The All of Us Mobile Exhibit will be held at the Moses H. Cone Hospital at 1121 N. Church St. on Wednesday, March 30, then at the Windsor Recreation Center at 1601 E. Gate City Boulevard on Thursday and Friday, March 31 and April. 1. Wednesday hours at The Cone are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Windsor Rec Center hours of operation are 12:00-3:00 p.m. Thursday and 12:00-2:00 p.m. Friday.

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