4 things to know about the national 'All of Us' biobank at Mayo Clinic

The National Institutes of Health on May 6 launched nationwide enrollment for its All of Us Research Program, a precision medicine effort that brings together partners from across the U.S.

All of Us aims to engage more than 1 million participants in sharing biological samples, genetic data and lifestyle information, and will serve as a national research resource to inform future precision medicine studies.

To house the diverse assortment of biological and genetic samples collected as part of All of Us, the NIH tapped Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic to serve as the project's biobank.

Here are four things to know about Mayo Clinic's role in the All of Us project.

1. Mayo Clinic is one of more than 100 organizations nationwide the NIH has funded as a partner of the program. While Mayo Clinic was the only organization awarded funding to develop the project's biobank, other providers have received funding to serve as engagement partners, enrollment sites and research centers.

2. In June 2016, the NIH awarded Mayo Clinic $142 million in funding over five years to serve as the nation's biobank. Under the funding award, Mayo Clinic committed to establishing an All of Us biobank, which will house 35 samples from each All of Us participant, totaling 35 million biospecimens in full.

"Our facility is built to serve as the archive for all biospecimens, storing them under optimal conditions to preserve quality and minimize loss, damage or contamination, and will be able to retrieve them efficiently for distribution," Mine Cicek, PhD, director of the Biospecimens Accessioning and Processing Core Laboratory at Mayo Clinic and co-principal investigator of the funding award, said in a May 1 statement.

3. To prepare for the program's May 6 launch, Mayo Clinic doubled the size of its 35,000-square-foot-facility in Minnesota for processing, storing and distributing biospecimens. Mayo Clinic also embarked on a 2,000-square-foot expansion of a facility in Florida, which will store 20 to 25 percent of the All of Us samples to protect the project from potential natural disasters in Minnesota.

4. A core tenet of the program is to capture representative samples of the U.S. population, including various racial, ethnic and geographic groups that have been historically underrepresented in scientific research.

"The work we are doing with NIH allows us to collect health data from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in research studies, such as women and minorities," John Noseworthy, MD, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, said in the May 1 statement. "This new effort will allow U.S. researchers using the All of Us Research Program biobank at Mayo Clinic to translate findings that truly represent the diversity of our citizens."

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