Half of 'All of Us' participants are underrepresented minorities, NIH chief says

Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, offered an update on the agency's All of Us Research Program during a hearing before a House subcommittee July 25.

The All of Us Research Program, part of the NIH's precision medicine initiative, aims to engage more than 1 million participants in sharing biological samples, genetic data and lifestyle information. The program, which launched nationwide May 6, will serve as a national research resource to inform future precision medicine studies.

The NIH's goal is to recruit volunteers from "all life stages, health statuses, races [and] ethnicities, and geographic regions to reflect the country's diverse places and people," Dr. Collins said in his witness statement.

To meet this goal, he said the NIH has partnered with 10 healthcare provider organizations, six community health centers and the Veterans Health Administration. The agency has also provided funding to more than 30 community organizations to help recruit racial, ethnic and geographic groups that have been historically underrepresented in scientific research.

As of July 16, a total of 85,369 volunteers have started the enrollment process, 42,315 of whom have completed it.

Dr. Collins said between 70 and 75 percent of the volunteers who have enrolled in the program are from "communities who have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research," and nearly 50 percent of the volunteers are from racial or ethnic groups that have typically been left out of scientific research.

"We continue to improve and adjust the program based on participant feedback and emerging scientific opportunities and technological advances," he added.

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