One of medicine’s largest research projects just launched nationally

precision-medicine---syringe-in-target

CR Blog guest post by Robert Wah, MD

How do medical breakthroughs usually start? It’s often when researchers can better access and apply information that is more accurate and comprehensive than what they’ve been working with before. To accelerate medical progress today, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is undertaking a historically ambitious effort to gather data from a diverse participant community on how biological, environmental, and lifestyle differences shape individuals’ health. Called All of Us, the groundbreaking precision medicine effort launched nationally on Sunday, May 6 with a goal of blending crowdsourcing and clinical data science to pinpoint factors involved that influence health and disease.

Medical history in the making

While medical studies typically focus on small cohorts and specific diseases, the All of Us Research Program will grow to include 1 million or more participants and will explore many health conditions. As such, it will be one of the richest databases of medical information ever built across socioeconomic, geographic, racial/ethnic, and other sectors. The twenty-first-century emergence of electronic health records and mobile health apps, along with advances in genomics and data science, has helped make a program effort this massive possible. Underscoring the project’s ambition, the NIH suggests that it “will enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, health care providers, and patients work together to develop individualized care.”

Seeking 1 million health profiles

With nationwide enrollment now open, eligible adults who live in the United States and are 18 years of age or older can volunteer by registering at the JoinAllofUs.org website or via an affiliated healthcare provider. In a few years, children will also be eligible to join the program with parental consent. You don’t have to be healthy to sign up. Participants who join will provide information over time about their health, from medical histories to lifestyle facts. Some  participants may  also be invited to have body measurements, heart rate, and blood pressure taken, give blood and urine samples, and provide All of Us consent to access their electronic health records. Given this use of personal information, the NIH emphasizes that data security and participant privacy are critical and a core value of the program.

Participants will be able to access the information they provide to the All of Us Research Program. Data about the groups of participants will be publicly available, while approved researchers will be able to study the more detailed data from invited participants. The NIH will be taking applications from researchers with innovative plans to make breakthrough discoveries using this vast resource of health information. They’ll harness the program’s immense size and tremendous statistical power to build increased knowledge about what people can do to stay healthy. The scope and duration of the program will enable researchers to assess in novel ways how biological and other factors can lead to illness. For example, a researcher may develop methods to look for early biomarkers of cancer in the data. Another type of analysis, pharmacogenomics, can illuminate why different people react to medicines in different ways. Benefits of the study will be as diverse as the participants who join.

Unprecedented precision

At DXC, we are honored to have been selected by the NIH to partner with All of Us. Through our work to help build the program’s Participant Center, DXC professionals currently bring expertise and support for the consent, engagement, and outreach processes the NIH needs to enroll and retain the program’s exceptionally large cohort. By delivering the right contact center capabilities in multiple languages, we provide the human touch that makes participating in the program easier. With these and other projects, we will demonstrate our ability to serve as a leader in the exciting world of precision medicine.

Ultimately, All of Us will give something important back to those who volunteer to participate, whether through raising awareness about their health or shaping the global scientific foundation for new treatments. In this sense, All of Us’s volunteers could potentially help discover cures for their own illnesses. As this historic program continues ramping up, DXC will be there to help the U.S. public, including 1 million or more All of Us participants, understand the program’s importance and broaden knowledge of health and disease.


Robert Wah headshotDr. Robert Wah is DXC’s Global Chief Medical Officer and Former President of the American Medical Association (AMA). Since 2007, Dr. Wah has been routinely ranked in Modern Healthcare magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Physician Executives.” At the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Wah served as the first Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT. He set up the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) and was Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Wah did his training at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda and Harvard Medical School and holds two board certifications. He is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. Dr. Wah currently sees patients, does surgery and trains residents and fellows at the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and Walter Reed National Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland.

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