Health research project redefines the ‘average patient’

All of Us campaign

The All of Us Research Program aims to collect health data from more than 1 million Americans with the goal of advancing the use of precision medicine.

Any adult who has received care at UI Health’s hospital or clinics is now eligible to participate in the All of Us Research Program, a historic national effort to advance the use of precision medicine to improve health by gathering data from at least 1 million people living in the U.S.

While the research program will not open to public participation until later this fall, UI Health patients and the UIC community can participate in the program beginning in September.

Participants will share health information, such as lifestyle habits, medical history, family history, blood samples and vitals, including blood pressure, height and weight. Participants can choose their level of involvement and will be provided with study results and program data.

With the data, All of Us hopes to improve the medical and research community’s ability to design disease prevention and treatment strategies around individuals — their genes, environment and lifestyle.

“For too many years, medicine has been based around the ‘average patient,’ often to the detriment of vulnerable, minority communities whose circumstances and health risks are unique and far from average,” said Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor of community-based practice at UIC and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to medicine is less than efficient but, until now, research alternatives have been limited,” said Winn, one of two principal investigators of the All of Us program at UIC, which is funded by a five-year, $45 million award from the National Institutes of Health.

UIC shares the funding with Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Collectively, the three institutions and their affiliated hospitals and clinics make up the program’s Illinois enrollment center, which seeks to enroll 120,000 Illinoisans into the study.

“We have a unique opportunity to change the face of medicine,” said Martha Daviglus, associate vice chancellor for research at UIC, executive director of the Institute for Minority Health Research, and principal investigator on the All of Us program in Illinois.

“Historically, there has been little diversity in medical research,” Daviglus said. “Because many minority communities have not been adequately represented in research, they have not benefited equally from new prevention strategies, treatments or cures.”

Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs, said the UIC community and its patients can help bridge this research gap.

“With UIC’s unique ability to reach diverse communities through our clinics throughout Chicago, and through our regional College of Medicine campuses, we are well-positioned to help answer the questions that will help bring precision medicine to everyone,” Barish said.

All of Us is a key part of the Precision Medicine Initiative, which was announced by President Obama in 2015.

To participate, email joinallofus@uic.edu or call 312-996-2778.