NIH goes on tour to gather information on health studies

The National Institutes of Health’s All of Us research program is going on the road to meet people where they live, and its next stop post-pandemic is Silver Spring, Maryland.

CASA Headquarters of Maryland. (Courtesy of Meredith Daly)

The National Institutes of Health’s All of Us research program is going on the road to meet people where they live, and its next stop post-pandemic is Silver Spring, Maryland.

People from all walks of life across the country are invited to help answer questions about a myriad of diseases and topics and to better understand precision medicine, according to Karriem Watson, program engagement manager.

“People who decide to participate can answer surveys about their medical history, family history, medications and other things,” Watson said.

That’s not all they can share if they want.

Karriem Watson is Head of Engagement for the National Institutes of Health’s All Of Us Research Program. (Courtesy of We All Research Program)

“They can even decide to share their electronic medical information. They can decide if they want to provide biological samples through blood and saliva, or if they just want to respond to our surveys and questions,” he said.

Studies aimed at finding cures or ways to improve health problems often do not include everyone affected. People who are not fully represented in research studies include racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, those living in rural communities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, or those who are very old or young.

The program aims to collect information on one million or more people.

The All of Us Journey Mobile Exhibit offers many ways for people to participate:

  • Learn more about the project.
  • Take a survey and answer the questions.
  • Agree to share medical records with all personally identifying information removed.
  • Donate a biological sample.

Genetic analysis of samples provided will determine if participants are at predisposing or genetic risk for certain actionable diseases.

So what is actionable insight that should be shared with new participants this summer?

This could mean whether they should have a colonoscopy sooner or later.

“Or you can talk to your healthcare provider about when you should get screened for certain cancers, or about certain behavioral things you can do to lower your risk of diabetes,” Watson said.

Once the information is collected, researchers evaluating anonymous data can, for example, compare people in the program in one state who have a disease or health condition with people in another state to see what that one understands of the environment and other things that can affect the outcome of the disease.

“Our goal is to be able to understand exactly how treatment can be individualized, so that we can move away from thinking about a one-size-fits-all solution and really get to a place where we can think about the precision of medicine,” Watson said. noted.

Precision medicine involves thinking about ways to understand how individual genetics – a person’s DNA – can be affected by where they live, as well as the social determinants of health – what some people call ZNA – as in the postal code.

The mobile unit will be in Silver Spring March 7-11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the White Oak Community Recreation Center at 1700 April Lane.

The tour then travels to Manassas, Virginia from March 14-17 before heading to North Carolina.

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