NIH's precision medicine program 'All of Us' to launch in May — 5 things to know

The National Institutes of Health's precision medicine program, dubbed "All of Us," is slated to launch in May, agency director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said during a Capitol Hill testimony in early April, as reported by the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter.

Here are five things to know about the All of Us Research Program ahead of its upcoming launch.

1. 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 NIH's long-term vision for the program is to serve as a national research resource to inform future precision medicine studies.

2. The NIH began developing the All of Us program in July 2016, and launched its beta stage almost one year later in June 2017. During the beta stage, enrollment in All of Us began with a single site, with the goal of testing 10,000 participants at 100-plus sites across the country. After beta testing, researchers reassessed the program's protocols and recruitment processes to fix any issues before its launch.

3. Since June 2017, All of Us has kicked off enrollment at 115 sites, All of Us Director Eric Dishman told the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter. More than 40,000 people have started the enrollment process, roughly 24,000 of whom have completed the initial protocol. The program's biobank has secured 710,000-plus sample tubes, with an estimated 10,000 samples arriving each day from sites across the country.

4. A core tenet of All of Us 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. In July 2017, for example, the NIH awarded four community partners a total of $1.7 million to engage underrepresented groups — such as African Americans, seniors and the LGBT community — in All of Us.

5. All of Us has faced criticism from some researchers and institutions, according to a March analysis by The New York Times. Critics voiced concerns related to whether the NIH's energy and resources were well-spent, or were potentially duplicative of smaller programs at hospitals and health systems across the U.S.

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