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This past May, the All of Us Research Program marked its 1-year anniversary. To commemorate this event, we held a day of talks. Hundreds of people came to the talks, and thousands tuned in online.
At the event, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke of the promise of precision medicine and how the All of Us Research Program can play a vital role. He talked about the Framingham Heart Study, which started in the 1940s. That study has led to breakthroughs in heart disease prevention and treatment.
“In some ways, All of Us is a bit like Framingham, but 40 times bigger, covering all health conditions, consisting of a much more diverse cohort, and using technologies never dreamed of in 1948,” Dr. Collins said. “I think it’s safe to say that the potential for All of Us is almost boundless.”
All of Us Director Eric Dishman shared his excitement about how far the program has come since its launch in 2018 and how far it can go. “Thank you all for getting us to this first birthday,” he said. “Now we’re taking the first baby steps on a new innovation journey.”
Other speakers echoed his enthusiasm. “We’re talking about pushing the envelope that I never thought would be possible when I was a medical student,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
During brief talks, the speakers covered a wide range of topics, such as:
Watch a recording of the event to hear from all the speakers.
# of stops by the All of Us Journey
# of participants who have completed the consent process
# of participants fully enrolled*
*Fully enrolled participants are those who have shared their health information with All of Us, including giving blood and urine or saliva samples.
The All of Us Research Program has teamed up with national partners like the Asian Health Coalition (AHC). AHC works with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups around the country to spread awareness of All of Us.
In May, All of Us and AHC celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with several events around the country. In Houston, AHC and Light and Salt Association spoke to the American Cancer Society about the value of promoting All of Us to local Chinese immigrants. They also held a meeting in Seattle to connect researchers, health care providers, and AAPI groups.
Fornessa Randal, executive director of AHC, said, “Our goal is to create a pathway so that our populations are represented in this landmark historical program.”
Katherine learned to love science at a very young age. At the age of 4, she began accompanying her biologist mother to work. “She used to call me her pre-post-doctoral fellow,” she says with a laugh. “I kind of grew up in the lab.”
Katherine’s passion for learning stayed with her through high school and college, where she double-majored in biology and kinesiology. It even followed her onto the track, when she unexpectedly found herself recruited to her college’s pole-vaulting team. She had her hesitations—“Pole-vaulting is terrifying,” she says—but her eagerness to learn something new eventually won out. Much to her surprise, she was great at it. After graduation, Katherine went on to compete internationally. “I loved it,” she says. “I loved contributing to a team.”
A few years later, now a researcher herself, Katherine heard about the All of Us Research Program and was intrigued. Here was a chance not only to learn but also to give back. “I know the value of scientific research and the ability it has to make change,” she says.
Katherine joined the All of Us Research Program and now serves on the Steering Committee, where she represents participants and their concerns and needs. She’s glad to be part of this new team and sees precision medicine’s potential. “When people are treated as individuals and as whole people,” she says, “quality of life improves.”
Katherine also appreciates how All of Us makes participants like her feel heard: “Researchers can’t do anything without participants. To incorporate them into the cycle—that’s a beautiful thing.”
Two mobile All of Us Research Program exhibitions are traveling the country to raise awareness and help sign people up for the program. Check out the All of Us Journey at one of these stops during the month of July:
Find future stops for the All of Us Journey.
If you joined All of Us more than 3 months ago, have you been back to the All of Us Participant Portal to take new surveys? If not, log in to the portal to answer surveys about your personal health history, your family’s health history, and how you access and use health care.
In March, All of Us kicked off a new speaker series with the National Library of Medicine. The first talk took place on YouTube Live, with Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins talked about the importance of All of Us and provided a preview of the program’s future. He took questions from viewers with co-presenter, Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., the All of Us chief engagement officer.
Watch the talk with Dr. Collins to find information about future talks.
Mental health struggles are very common. In fact, at some point in life, more than 50% of people in the United States will be diagnosed with some kind of mental illness or disorder.
Some of the most common mental health conditions are:
These conditions affect people of all races and ethnicities, but members of minority groups are less likely to get treatment. There are many reasons for this, including cost, access, and stigma surrounding mental illness. On top of that, many types of treatment have been developed and tested mostly on members of majority groups. We don’t know for sure how well those treatments will work for other groups of people.
Factors such as discrimination, stress, and poverty all have strong negative effects on mental and overall health. These issues can also keep people from getting the help they need. In recent years, suicide rates have gone up among Latinos and African Americans, as well as among Native American teens and young adults.
Minority mental health is a serious concern that needs more research. To make that research possible, we need to include all communities. That’s why All of Us seeks to reflect the diversity of the United States in terms of geography, race, ethnicity, health status, and more.