Dr. Katie Benziger is an Essentia Health cardiologist. She is also one of the first people to enroll in the All of Us Research Program at Essentia.
"I'm relatively healthy, but I had some complications with my pregnancies, and I hope we can learn more about how this increases my risk of future events," she said. "When you have a big study like this with a lot of people, you can learn a lot from information from surveys and genetic information that is linked with the medical record.”
Essentia Health is partnering with the National Institutes of Health as an enrollment site for the All of Us Research Program. One million or more volunteers around the United States will enroll and be asked to share information about their health, habits, and environment in order to speed up health research and more quickly identify medical advancements.
"The results of All of Us will accelerate medical breakthroughs. It may help identify risks and what you can do to lower them," said Dr. Stephen Waring, a research scientist at the Essentia Institute of Rural Health and the principal investigator of the program.
The program is the largest of its kind ever attempted. At its heart, the work will help develop better ways to measure a person's risk for disease based on genetics, socioeconomic factors, environmental exposures, and other individual factors. The program could also help identify which treatments work for different types of people. Over the program’s duration, participants will remain engaged as partners, with ongoing opportunities to help shape the program with their input.
"As the medical director of heart and vascular research, I have a vested interest in making sure other people participate in our studies, so I’m hoping to be a leader to help this get kicked off because it’s an important study and unique for people in the Northland to be able to participate in a study like this," Dr. Benziger added. "I’m really excited to be one of the first to get enrolled."
The All of Us Research Program is open to people age 18 and older living in the United States. There is no cost to participate in the program. Participants will be asked, via online questionnaires, to share information about their health, family, home, and work. Participants will also be asked for permission to access their electronic health record data.
“It will be the biggest data source compiled with the potential of thousands of studies being done using this data,” said Allise Taran, research and evaluation specialist for the program at Essentia. “Researchers can apply to use this data with the promise of accelerating their research, which is good for everybody,” she adds.
Taran signed up. “I have a 6-month-old son, and I’m hoping this helps improve health for his generation,” she said. “We’ve dealt with some horrible cancer and disease in my family. It would be really nice to see us make some forward progress before he reaches an age where he might need to deal with that.”
Data collected in-person by trained lab and research staff will include physical measurements such as blood pressure, height, and weight, as well as blood and urine samples. Participants will be partners in the program and will have access to their health information and study results through the All of Us Participant Portal. All health information collected will be stored securely and confidentially. Participants who complete the full enrollment visit will also receive a $25 gift card for their time.
Currently, clinic locations for in-person visits include:
> Duluth Clinic-Third Street Building, Occupational Medicine, 400 E. Third St., Duluth.
> Lakeside Clinic (Duluth), 4621 E. Superior St., Duluth.
> Superior Clinic, 3500 Tower Ave., Superior.
Those wanting to participate who live outside those areas can still complete the online portion and be notified as new in-person visit sites open. Qquestions: www.EssentiaHealth.org/AllofUs or 877.340.8058 or AllofUs@EssentiaHealth.org.
The work is supported by the All of Us Research Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, under award number 1OT2OD026550.
All of Us and the All of Us logo are service marks of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
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