Coming week on 6th of May, the National Institutes of Health, NIH, would open enrollment for the “All for Us” research program. This program would be one of the first steps in revolutionizing individualized prevention of disease as well as diagnosis and treatment.
Why All of Us? Why Now?
Individualized diagnosis, treatment and care are called precision medicine where it is accepted that one approach cannot fit all. Individualizing or tailor-making diagnostic and treatment approaches could improve both diagnostic and therapeutic medicine vastly. It takes into account individual lifestyles, concomitant health issues, concomitant drugs taken, cultures, environments as well as biological parameters including genetic makeup. These parameters normally can affect how a person responds to a particular therapy. When taken into account, these factors can be considered and treatment may be tailored accordingly for maximizing rates of success. Just like eye glasses and hearing aids are catered to individual requirements, these medicines too would be made for individuals, explain experts.
All people over the age of 18 from different ethnic backgrounds as well as with different health status would be eligible to join this research program. The official launch is scheduled in seven cities all over the country as an online event. Till date, over 25000 people have already enrolled for this program. The program aims at enrolling at least a million or more participants from all communities and ethnicities to make this one of the most diverse studies.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement said, “All of Us is an ambitious project that has the potential to revolutionize how we study disease and medicine… NIH’s unprecedented effort will lay the scientific foundation for a new era of personalized, highly effective health care. We look forward to working with people of all backgrounds to take this major step forward for our nation’s health.” Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program said that all individuals were unique and precision medicine is the next big thing. He said all individuals deserve an opportunity for individualized medicine regardless of the color of their skin, socioeconomic status or gender and age. “In other words, it will truly take all of us,” he said. Dara Richardson-Heron, chief engagement officer of the All of Us Research Program said that this program would remove the health disparities and now “…everyone can benefit from better health, better health care and exciting new breakthroughs.”
One of the unique things about this study is that researchers and participants here are partners in the program. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, added that this program would include “individuals from all walks of life” and they would 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,” he explained. All participants would have access to their health information and also information regarding the entire participant population.
As a future plan, children would be eligible for this program as well. The initial launch next week would be at Birmingham, Alabama, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, New York City and Pasco, Washington. Congress has sanctioned $1.45 billion for the next decade for this project.