Involving 'All of Us' in research to prevent diseases
In 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which will enroll one million or more participants in a national research effort designed to find better ways to prevent and treat disease based on lifestyle, environment and genetics.
Cancer is a major focus of the PMI, given the promise of more effective tailored treatments and prevention methods. A portion of the funds allocated for the PMI are dedicated to the National Cancer Institute’s efforts in cancer genomics, and the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center is participating in the All of Us Research Program, a key element of the PMI.
The All of Us leadership hopes to extend precision medicine for prevention and treatment of all diseases by building a diverse national research cohort that will be followed for decades. Cohort studies provide a unique opportunity for scientists to follow a large group of people over an extended period of time to see how exposure—environment, occupation, city of residence, for example—may relate to incidence of chronic diseases such as cancer.
The Comprehensive Cancer Center has been committed to this area of research for many years by supporting the development of research studies that follow patients over a long period of time - known as longitudinal cohorts - in Chicago that also have the scientific capacity to promote precision health and medicine.
“We are hoping to leverage our extensive experience engaging diverse research participants in UChicago projects to enhance minority representation in All of Us and boost the ability of the program to make breakthroughs relevant to our patient population,” said Brisa Aschebrook-Kilfoy, PhD, research assistant professor of public health sciences and a key investigator.
Aschebrook-Kilfoy helps run the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Chicago Multiethnic Prevention and Surveillance Study (COMPASS), which aims to understand differences in disease incidence and mortality in Chicago’s population where there are higher rates of cancer and chronic diseases than in other parts of the United States.
"Once we know and understand what leads to the development of disease and the underlying biological processes, we are in a better position to identify prevention and treatment solutions."
COMPASS is led by Habibul Ahsan, MD, Louis Block Professor of Public Health Sciences, Medicine, and Human Genetics, who established the University of Chicago Precision and Population Health Initiative (PPHI) by integrating COMPASS and All of Us. All of Us, like COMPASS, aims to build a diverse cohort and Ahsan’s team will help with the recruitment of 50,000 of the 150,000 All of Us participants that will be coming from Illinois.
“Once we know and understand what leads to the development of disease and the underlying biological processes, we are in a better position to identify prevention and treatment solutions,” said Ahsan, who also serves as associate director for population research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Join All of Us by visiting joinallofus.org and download the free app for both iOS and Android.
Learn more about the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium.