For the promise of precision medicine to become a reality, scientific research must include data from diverse populations. As part of this effort, in 2016 the University of Arizona and Banner Health joined forces as a cohort of the All of Us Research Program spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It aims to enroll at least 1 million volunteers nationwide to create the largest, most diverse genetic datasets for precision health research.
Researchers and students interested in learning more about this nationwide effort can attend a virtual All of Us Researchers Convention, which takes place March 31 and April 1. The event is free.
Equipping Students to Perform Research
On March 31, the Minority Student Research Symposium will target students interested in learning how to wield the full potential of the All of Us database. Francisco Moreno, MD, professor of psychiatry and principal investigator and engagement lead for All of Us Research Program University of Arizona-Banner Health, is on the planning committee for the symposium, for which he’ll serve as a judge. He’ll also be moderator for a session on diet, nutrition and diabetes. The goal to include underrepresented communities in scientific research starts with students, he said.
“Underrepresented minorities represent 30% of the U.S. population but less than 9% of STEM PhD recipients and 7% of all physicians,” he said. “The All of Us Research Program hopes this symposium will widen the professional network of underrepresented STEM students, provide an environment that fosters exploration and professional development, and support their pursuit of a career in the biomedical workforce.”
Dr. Moreno encouraged any student interested in health sciences, particularly members of communities underrepresented in biomedical research, to complete a research project using data from the All of Us Research Program Hub. Students are paired with a STEM industry/academic mentor to prepare a research poster and present it during the following year’s student research symposium.
Those who would like to participate in the Minority Student Research Program and use All of Us data in their work over the next year, as a student or mentor, can fill out the MSRS 2023 interest form online.
Learning to Use the Data
On April 1, researchers from UArizona also can sign up to hear presentations at All of Us Science Day, during which registered users of the All of Us Researcher Workbench will discuss projects and proposals using All of Us data. Monica Kraft, MD, professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine, is the contact principal investigator of All of Us UArizona-Banner. She said the health data the program provides and the experience learning to use it is invaluable.
“Science Day will give investigators from the University of Arizona Health Sciences and across the nation a chance to learn how to use the Researcher Workbench and ultimately work with All of Us data to advance solutions they’ve been seeking to various health care challenges,” said Dr. Kraft, who is also a member of the BIO5 Institute.
Agendas for both the Minority Student Research Symposium and Science Day can be found on the All of Us Research Program Researchers Convention website. Those interested in attending can register for the virtual event online. The two other principal investigators on the All of Us UArizona-Banner research team are Andreas Theodorou, MD, FCCM, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, and Eric Reiman, MD, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.