As champions of precision medicine, it was really exciting to see that beta testing has begun for the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us program (formerly known as the Precision Medicine Initiative).
An announcement from program director Eric Dishman offered several useful updates on progress so far. The academic medical centers and technology companies participating in the effort have already completed several focus groups and pilot studies, which helped shape the research protocol. The team also reached out to stakeholders in the field with feedback requests and a funding opportunity to help engage new partners. Finally, Dishman wrote, “we’ve invested in a state-of-the-art biobank and built ‘big data’ IT systems to transfer and store data, with safeguards in place to keep participants’ information private and secure.”
We applaud the All of Us team for its sensible approach to launching a study that ultimately aims to include one million participants: they’re starting small and testing every step of the process before opening the floodgates. The beta phase will begin with one site and gradually increase to 100 sites across the country. As the effort picks up steam, this phase should reach more than 10,000 participants.
Dishman reported that after beta testing is complete and operations are adjusted based on their findings, the national All of Us launch for all volunteer participants should occur late this year or early 2018. “By providing information about their health, lifestyles, and environments over the course of many decades, these volunteers will be important partners in helping create an unprecedented research resource to drive future discoveries,” he wrote. “This resource will be easily accessible to researchers of all kinds, from citizen scientists to investigators in academia and industry, for studies on a variety of health topics.”
Congratulations to the All of Us team! We eagerly await the valuable new insights that will help scientists and clinicians realize the potential of personalized medicine.