The National Institutes of Health (NIH) May 6 opened national enrollment for its All of Us Research Program, which aims to gather data from one million or more people to accelerate research and improve health.
Anyone living in the United States who is 18 or older, regardless of health status, is eligible to enroll. NIH notes that more than 25,000 participants have already enrolled in All of Us over a year-long “beta test.” The goal of the program is to collect data on lifestyle, environment, and biology (including genetics) from at least 1 million volunteers. These data will be gathered with the help of over 100 NIH-funded organizations through surveys, access to electronic health records, blood and urine samples, physical measurements, and possibly in the future, wearable devices and research studies. With these data, researchers will be able to create targeted treatments for specific needs.
In an announcement of the release, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, explained, “The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to be represented in research and pioneer the next era of medicine. The time is now to transform how we conduct research—with participants as partners—to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us.”
Since a major aim of All of Us is to gather data from a diverse population that “reflects the rich diversity of the U.S.,” the program plans to oversample from communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in biomedical research. To build trust, participants will have access to their own health information, aggregate data collected from the participant community, and updates on studies resulting from the program.
A press release by Dr. Collins and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar compares the effort to the landmark Framingham Heart Study and notes the importance to medicine of a community of volunteers who “choose to ‘pay it forward’ and help provide the data today that produces cures tomorrow.”
The AAMC has archived a webinar on how researchers and providers at member institutions can be involved in the program.