A national databank of genetic- and molecular-level insights that could guide how patients are treated and radically change care for future generations—futuristic pipe dream or tangible goal?
Thanks to a research program that launched on May 6 with Partners HealthCare, Boston Medical Center, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it’s within reach. Supported by a competitive NIH grant, the All of Us Research Program puts Partners institutions at the forefront of the precision medicine evolution. The approach considers patients’ genetic and molecular, environmental, and lifestyle factors, to accelerate research and improve health. Together with Boston Medical Center, Partners will implement the program in the region as ‘All of Us New England.’ This consortium will contribute toward the overall goal: a million-patient-strong data cohort representing America’s ethnic, socioeconomic, and health diversity.
“By engaging a diverse patient population, we are offering people the opportunity to participate in one of the most far-reaching research initiatives of our time to improve the health of future generations of people in every community,” said principal investigator George O’Connor, MD, director of the Adult Asthma Program at Boston Medical Center and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. “It’s a mission that is resonating with our patients and staff.”
Ultimately, data from All of Us—gleaned from participants’ biospecimens, electronic health records, surveys, and mobile sensors—will help investigators learn why patients respond differently to certain therapies, revealing new disease biomarkers that could enable more effective treatments.
“All of Us will create a unique longitudinal cohort, building on the tradition of cohorts like the Framingham Heart Study and the Nurses’ Health Study that have contributed so much to our understanding of human health,” said principal investigator Elizabeth Karlson, MD, MS, director of rheumatic disease epidemiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).
National launch events are aimed toward educating the public on the program, and recruiting participants ages 18 and older. Led by Co-Principal Investigators Jordan Smoller, MD, SD, Elizabeth Karlson, MD, MS, Shawn Murphy, MD, PhD, George O’Connor, MD, Scott Weiss, MD, and Dr. Karlson, All of Us New England is recruiting participants at the following locations: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Partners HealthCare at Assembly Row, Codman Square Health Center, the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care, Brookside Community Health Center, and MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center.
“All of Us is groundbreaking not only for the data that will be provided to researchers, but also for including participants as partners in every step of the program,” said Dr. Smoller, associate chief of research in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. “By engaging and retaining participants over 10 years or more, All of Us hopes to build trust in communities that have been underrepresented in medical research and involve them in shaping a new model in which information will be shared with them about their health.”