“All of Us” Research Program Needs Us

By Athena Ramos

How many times have we noticed that a medical treatment is successful for some people, but for others it doesn’t work even though it’s the same medical condition? Do you know who your ancestors were and what are your risks for certain health conditions? To answer these and other questions, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a research program in 2018, focusing on advancing precision medicine. Precision medicine refers to health care based on people’s specific characteristics. You, as an individual, are characterized by factors such as where you live, your lifestyle (e.g., diet and physical activity), your work, family, genetics, and medical history, among others. If you become ill, precision medicine will help medical professionals to identify the most appropriate treatment for you based on your particular characteristics.

We, Hispanics/Latinos, need to actively participate in studies like All of Us because even though we constitute 18% of the population in the United States, only 1% of us have participated in research studies. When we do not participate in research studies, we prevent scientists from understanding our particular characteristics since our conditions may be different from those of other ethnic groups. There are even great differences between Hispanics/Latinos from different regions. On the other hand, when we participate in studies such as All of Us, we help generate more information about the risk factors we are exposed to related to certain diseases. We will also be able to understand what types of treatment work best for certain people and what technology helps us to be healthier. In addition to this, we can find specific information about us, such as who our ancestors were, why we have certain character traits, or what diseases we might be more likely to develop.

In early 2019, the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health partnered with the National Alliance for Hispanic Health to promote the All of Us research program among the Hispanic/Latino population in Nebraska, emphasizing the importance of the Hispanic/Latino community’s participation in the program. In Nebraska, we have promoted this study by participating in health fairs, community events, and conferences. Currently, we are promoting the program virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating is simple. You only need to be currently living in the United States, be of legal age, and have an email or cell phone to be included in the program. If you have would like to participate, visit the webpage www.JoinAllofUs.org/juntos or text the word TOGETHER to 805722, and you will be given step-by-step instructions on how to open a personal account and detailed information about the program. You can decide to participate in one or more activities offered, and some activities offer compensation. The rigorous design of the study guarantees the confidentiality of your information, and you have the ability to control the data that you share. For example, you may decide not to provide your medical records or your social security number.

We hope that this information reaches across Nebraska and that more people start participating to be part of that million people that the program intends to recruit nationwide. If you want to join this program, want to help share information in your community, or have questions before participating, you can contact us at b.carvajalsuarez@unmc.edu. You can also follow us on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/UNMCCRHD/.

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