UIC, Chicago medical centers join NIH to host All of Us launch event

All of Us campaignOn May 6, the National Institutes of Health will open national enrollment for the All of Us Research Program — a momentous effort to advance individualized prevention, treatment and care for people of all backgrounds.

To mark the occasion, the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium – which includes the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern Medicine, University of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center and NorthShore University HealthSystem – will host a  launch event in Chicago on Sunday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade South. Community members are invited to learn about All of Us through a variety of engaging activities and speakers, as well as register as participants in the program. The Chicago event is one of many simultaneous events being held around the country to mark the program’s launch. NIH will also host an online program that will be simulcast at the Chicago event.

Other activities at the Chicago event include a community education fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with health and wellness information, a free Zumba class at 1 p.m., and a performance from the Northwestern Medical Orchestra and other groups throughout the day. Starting at 3 p.m., attendees can view the national launch event via simulcast and the local speakers program will start at 3:30 p.m. with Zoraida Sambolin of NBC 5 Chicago News serving as the emcee. Speakers include:

  • Veronica Robinson, executive director of Henrietta Lacks HeLa
  • Candace Henley, chief surviving officer of the Blue Hat Foundation
  • Elizabeth Rivera, local author/educator
  • Michelle Birkett, director of the CONNECT Research Program in Complex Systems and Health Disparities at Northwestern University
  • Jeannine Donahue, OncoSET coordinator at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and executive coordinator at Inflammatory Breast Cancer International Consortium

The consortium received a five-year, $51 million grant to help launch landmark longitudinal research effort central to the Precision Medicine Initiative from NIH. All of Us will gather lifestyle and medical data from people across the U.S. to provide the most diverse biomedical data resource in history. The overall aim is to enroll 1 million or more volunteers and oversample communities that have been underrepresented in research to make the program the largest, most diverse resource of its kind. Volunteers who register will join more than 27,000 participants across the U.S. who have already enrolled in All of Us as part of a year-long beta test to prepare for the program’s national launch.

“The All of Us program is a unique opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to ensure that they are represented in medical research,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Martha Daviglus, associate vice chancellor for research, director of the Institute for Minority Health Research and professor of medicine at UIC. “While biomedical research has largely focused on non-minority U.S. populations, we now know that the burden of disease and response to treatment varies among different race/ethnic groups. It is vital that Hispanics/Latinos and other underrepresented minority groups have the opportunity to participate in research, so that effective therapies can be developed to help them achieve and maintain optimal health.”

“Chicago is home to a diverse group of people and cultures, and it is home to alarming and life-threatening health disparities,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “For too many years, medicine has been based around the ‘average patient,’ often to the detriment of marginalized communities for whom neither medicine nor research has been precise. This is an opportunity for us to ensure that all people can access and even influence research and innovation.”

“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,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH.

“All of us are unique, but today we live mostly in an era of ‘one-size-fits-all’ medicine,” said Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program. “I’m alive today because of precision medicine and I think everyone deserves that same opportunity no matter the color of your skin, your economic status, your age or your sex or gender. In other words, it will truly take all of us.”

More information on the Chicago event is available online.